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Ducey, Christ, Hoffman discuss return to in-person instruction in schools

Despite the potential risks posed by the start of the school year, Gov. Ducey allows individual districts to make choices on how to comply with guidelines

ARIZONA, USA — Gov. Doug Ducey, Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman all support giving schools guidelines to follow to allow kids to physically return to school as early as Monday, despite the potential risk of the spread of COVID-19.

 At a question and answer session with members of the media Thursday, Ducey said it’ll be up to each individual school district to abide by the guidelines the state has laid out.

“We're going to leave ultimate and final decisions to superintendents and principals and I'm confident they'll make good decisions,” Ducey said.

Asked about schools that do not meet the recommended benchmarks that choose to open anyway, Ducey said the benchmarks were not being ignored.

“Many of the school districts are close on the benchmarks, and they're making decisions,” Ducey said.

Superintendent Hoffman said at a separate event Thursday that she had a hand in the recommendations and supported their use.

“It's my position that our school districts should be adhering to these public health metrics that have been vetted by medical experts and epidemiologists,” Hoffman said.

When asked about educators who do not feel comfortable returning to in-person instruction due to COVID-19 concerns, Governor Ducey again reiterated his support for almost everyone involved in schools except for teachers.

“I support the principals. I support the superintendents. And I support the parents. I know they have the best interest of the kids at heart. And so do the teachers,” Ducey said.

When it was pointed out that Ducey did not directly say he supported teachers and the decisions they make for their own personal healthy, Ducey responded, “There’s a lot of teachers that can’t wait to get to the front of the classroom.”

Many teachers, especially those in higher risk categories, have expressed concern over returning to teaching in person. They face the prospect of unemployment and even breach of contract legal proceedings in some cases. Even so, many have resigned or retired rather than return before they feel safe. 

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