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'I'm not optimistic:' Arizona's top educator unsure if schools will reopen in person Aug. 17

With Arizona being a hot spot for the virus, the state superintendent is pushing back on the president's plan to put kids back in school.

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey met with school leaders and health officials on Wednesday, as Arizona is just more than a month away from the governor's "aspirational" start of in-person classes on Aug. 17.

"I'm not optimistic," State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said about the start time. 

During a press call with reporters, Arizona's top educator expressed concern with the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact on teachers and students. 

“I think we, as educators, are grieving that with our current conditions that is not going to be possible right away.”

“We as educators are grieving, that with the current conditions, that's not going to be possible right away,” Hoffman said.

The main point of the press call was to push back against the President's call to have students back in the classrooms. 

"Trump's push to reopen schools is completely out of touch with reality here on the ground in Arizona," Hoffman said. "And a reckless attempt to reopen without grounding those decisions in data will put the lives of our educators  and students at risk."

Arizona educators have already seen the damage the virus can do. 

In June, Arizona lost middle school teacher Kimberly Byrd to COVID-19. She was teaching summer school online, and other teachers working in the classroom were also infected.

Because of the outbreak. Arizona has already pushed back the start of school until Aug. 17.

“We are in the process of reevaluating that date as well,” Hoffman said. 

When 12 News asked if Arizonans should expect in-person schooling to begin before the end of the school year, Hoffman said: “It’s hard for me to say."

Hoffman indicated she would support more restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus. 

Hoffman says she predicts more announcements will come from the governor’s office on when in-person classes could be held but said the exact details have not been decided.

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