PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey issued a new executive order Thursday that provides millions of dollars for schools as educators plan for the upcoming school year, but he gave no direction for a statewide order on when campuses should reopen.
Schools were previously ordered to hold off on in-person classes until Aug. 17, and Ducey is allowing school districts to formulate their own plans for reopening after that date.
The order does give some mandates for Arizona schools, including:
- Each school district and charter school needs to begin teacher-led distance learning by the first day of their traditional instructional calendar.
- Schools will continue to be required to provide 180 days of instruction or equivalent hours.
- All schools will develop face-covering policies to protect students and staff.
Arizona State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman explained that the free on-site learning requirement in the order can be a communal space for students to meet, such as the Boys & Girls Club.
“This plan provides maximum options for Arizona families, ensures students receive a full academic year of education and gives local school leaders the flexibility, resources and public health guidance to make the best decisions for their students," Ducey said.
Ducey has also instructed the Arizona Department of Health Services to create a health plan for a safe return to class by Aug. 7, but some school districts begin their year before that date.
The announcement also came after Ducey met with Hoffman and other school leaders and health officials.
“I think we, as educators, are grieving that with our current conditions that is not going to be possible right away," Hoffman said during the Wednesday press call.
“We as educators are grieving, that with the current conditions, that's not going to be possible right away."
In June, Arizona middle school teacher Kimberly Byrd died after contracting COVID-19. She was teaching summer school online, and two other teachers working in the classroom were also infected.
Kerry Croswhite, a former teacher and swim coach at Chandler High School, also died of COVID-19 after battling the virus for a month.
Arizona school board leaders and medical professionals joined forces to send a message to Ducey last week.
They asked the governor to push back in-person classes to Oct. 1.
As COVID-19 cases and deaths continued to rise in Arizona, many school districts took matters into their own hands and announced various plans for the upcoming school year.
The majority of districts that made announcements offered three types of plans for students: Full-time in person, full-time online or a hybrid of the two.
This is a developing situation. Stay tuned to 12 News for the latest.
Read the full executive order below: