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‘Unlikely’ any Arizona schools will open classrooms by Aug. 17, state superintendent says

"Our state is simply not ready to have all our students and educators congregate in school facilities," Kathy Hoffman wrote.

PHOENIX — Arizona’s top education official says it’s “unlikely” any schools in the state will open campus doors on the date Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order expires.

State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman issued the statement Monday afternoon as AZDHS continues to build a plan for a safe reopening of classrooms just weeks before the school year begins.

“As school leaders, we should prepare our families and teachers for the reality that it is unlikely that any school community will be able to reopen safely for traditional in-person or hybrid instruction by August 17,” Hoffman wrote.

Ducey ordered that schools won’t reopen before mid-August, but he allowed local school districts to create their own plans for reopening afterward while freeing millions of dollars to help them prepare.

RELATED: Gov. Ducey orders resources for upcoming school year, but no statewide plan for in-person classes

Most schools have kept classrooms closed since March after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 to be a worldwide pandemic.

The governor argued against a statewide mandate to keep campuses closed to give school districts the flexibility to cater to their own students.

Even still, Hoffman says “our state is simply not ready to have all our students and educators congregate in school facilities.”

The state’s health department was ordered by Ducey to create benchmarks for a safe reopening by Aug. 7, but some educators and physicians issued their own guidelines as districts scramble to create plans.

RELATED: Arizona school districts announce changes for 2020-2021 school year

RELATED: Physicians, educators release guidelines for in-person learning while waiting on AZDHS benchmarks

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

Confusion has swirled around the new school year for parents and teachers alike, and some teachers say the ongoing pandemic has forced them into early retirement.

A few Arizona districts are still reeling from the deaths of teachers due to coronavirus, including Kerry Croswhite in Chandler and Kim Byrd in Gila County.

“If we want to return to in-person instruction, every Arizonan must make it their mission to slow the spread of this virus,” Hoffman said. "We should not expect or ask the majority of Arizona's students and teachers to make a return to school facilities until the spread of COVID-19 is under control."