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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey orders public schools back to in-person learning by March 15

Gov. Doug Ducey's new executive order states that Arizona schools must offer in-person learning by March Gov. . But there are multiple exemptions.

PHOENIX — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order on Wednesday that requires public schools in the state to get back to teacher-led, in-person learning by March 15, in less than two weeks, or after the school's spring break.

In a thread on Twitter, Ducey said, "The (CDC) has laid out a path for every school to open safely. Public health experts nationally have spoken about the importance of getting kids back in school. In Arizona, teachers have been prioritized for the vaccine, and many school districts are reporting that nearly all of their educators have received both doses."

There are a few exemptions to the order. Schools in counties with high COVID-19 transmission, which includes Coconino, Yavapai, and Pinal, are exempt. A student may also continue participating in virtual instruction if their parent or guardian chooses to do so.

"We prioritized teachers in our vaccine distribution, and many have already received their second dose," Ducey said in a statement. 

"The science is clear: it’s time all kids have the option to return to school so they can get back on track and we can close the achievement gap.”

READ THE FULL EXECUTIVE ORDER HERE

All charter and district schools are expected to notify The Arizona Department of Education no later than March 15 that they are in compliance with the order.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released five key COVID-19 mitigation strategies for re-opening schools last month:

  • Universal mask wearing
  • Physical distancing of six feet 
  • Washing hands
  • Cleaning and improving school ventilation
  • Contact tracing

“The CDC is not mandating that schools reopen. Their recommendations simply provide schools a long-needed roadmap for how to do so safely,” said CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.   

RELATED: Biden vows most elementary schools open 5 days a week by end of April

Last week, nearly 60% of the state’s public schools were offering in-person and virtual learning options.

Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman spoke about a safe return to in-person learning during a news conference on Feb. 24.

The Arizona Department of Health Services reported 1,284 new cases and 29 new deaths on Wednesday.

Arizona has administered 1,902,637 total vaccines COVID-19 vaccine doses as of Wednesday.

The department reports the number of new cases on the day the cases were reported to them by counties and hospitals, not on the day when someone was diagnosed with the virus.

There are 170 hospitalizations per 1 million in Arizona as of Tuesday, down from 176 on Monday, according to The COVID Tracking Project. You can find more data from the project here.

Arizona reached 800,000 coronavirus cases on Feb. 17, 700,000 on Jan. 22, 600,000 on Jan. 9, 500,000 on Dec. 28, 400,000 on Dec. 12, 300,000 on Nov. 23, 200,000 on Aug. 27, 100,000 on July 6 and 50,000 cases on June 21.