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Parents and teachers facing uncertainty as they prepare for back-to-school

Teachers and parents say COVID-19 is presenting a lot of challenges as they work to make sure students’ educational needs are met.

PHOENIX — Parents and teachers are working to get ready for the school year as best as they can as no matter what, it will not look like “normal.”

Teachers and parents say COVID-19 is presenting a lot of challenges as they work to make sure students’ educational needs are met.

“It has been really overwhelming,” Ebony Oakry said.

Oakry is a parent to three children who each attend a different school.

“Just to even think about how I’m going to do all of this, it can be a major headache,” Oakry said.

She is trying to figure out first, how to get laptops for all three of her children plus how she’ll assist them and still do her job.

“Me being a working parent, I don’t even know if their educational needs will be met ‘in excellence’ if you will,” Oakry said.

Teachers are also dealing with the uncertainty of their own.

“It’s scary, it’s scary because there’s a lot of unknown about what it’s going to look like,” Jeannette Dube said.

Dube is a sixth-grade teacher. She says her district is starting out distance learning.

“It’s so hard because I want to be there with those kids,” Dube said.

But being high risk herself, and a mom, she’s still concerned about the future.

“We don’t know what to plan for. Do we plan for in-person eventually? Do we figure out how to make that transition? It’s just – the unknown is very difficult,” Dube said.

Gov. Doug Ducey alongside Superintendent Kathy Hoffman addressed school plans for the fall Thursday afternoon.

Among the announcement, Ducey said returning to in-person classes will be data-driven, with benchmarks to be released by the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The metrics we were wanting to understand better on what might lead to a decision on when it would be safe to open schools were kind of hinted at, but we don’t have any clarity on that than we did before,” Joe Thomas, the president of Arizona Education Association said.

According to Ducey’s executive order on schools, AZDHS is supposed to release benchmarks by Aug. 7. 

However, the executive order also states schools will be required to offer in-person learning to students who need it starting Aug. 17.

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