TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - As cases of COVID-19 increase with deaths not far behind, several school districts in Arizona have already started to pull back from hybrid and in-person learning.
“Just last week, I’ve already seen many districts make that decision,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “It’s a very difficult decision for our school districts to make.”
Hoffman says schools are safe areas for students because of mask wearing and other precautions taken to protect them and staff.
But she adds, it’s when the children leave the school grounds, that the chances of catching the virus and spreading it becomes more acute.
“Typically, I’m an optimist but unfortunately right now, I have a sinking feeling,” she said. “I’m very worried about what Thanksgiving will look like and especially the weeks following due to this high risk.”
The Centers for Disease Control has asked people limit travel this holiday but it appears that’s not happening on a large scale as airports and roadways have begun to fill up.
That does not bode well for the holiday season. It usually takes about two weeks for the cases to begin rising. Deaths take another four weeks to spike.
It promises to be a long holiday season.
Hoffman says she is already talking to state lawmakers about the potential for schools ahead of the legislative session which does not begin until January.
“Our schools being one of the most essential services that our communities have yet it’s the schools that are closing or transitioning to distance learning,” she said. “Rather than looking at the community as a whole and seeing what other strategies we can do to prevent the closure of schools.”
Like wearing masks, which she puts at the top of the list.
She’s also concerned about sports as a possible spreader and is asking fall and winter sports be put on hold.
“So I’m thinking close contact sports like wrestling and basketball where you have heavy breathing,” she said. “We need to put a pause on both fall and winter sports.”
Hoffman says she was a competitive swimmer is school and so understands the role of sports as part of the growing up experience.