|Monday, August 3, 2020 |
Dear School Leaders,
Across our state, distance learning and on-site support services have already begun for our schools or are mere weeks away from beginning. From conversations I’ve had with school leaders and educators, I know you are all working incredibly hard to bring high-quality learning and growing opportunities to your students.
The Arizona Department of Education is issuing additional guidance on Governor Ducey’s Executive Order 2020-51 released on July 23rd. As many of you may know by now, there are key pieces in Executive Order 2020-51 that will impact the remainder of the academic year, including:
- Full funding for distance learning, for schools and families that decide this is the safest instructional model.
- Requirements for the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) to develop, by August 7th, public health metrics for schools to use to determine a safe return to in-person instruction (additional information below).
- Statewide mandate for face coverings in schools for both students and staff
- Clarity around the intention of the on-site support services requirement, as well as a waiver process for this requirement.
As with any Executive Order, there were still many questions about how new requirements would be operationalized – especially related to on-site services, health and safety protocols, and the waiver process. Today, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) has issued new guidance to further clarify and provide considerations for how to operationalize on-site support services. This guidance outlines which services are intended to be provided, recommendations for staffing, and the safety measures that should be in place to protect staff and students. ADE will share more information on the waiver process as soon as it is available.
Update on Public Health Metrics
I also want to update you on the public health metrics that are being developed and released no later than August 7th by ADHS. ADE and ADHS are partnering to develop data metrics and guidance for local education agencies (LEAs) to help make decisions regarding the return to physical school buildings for in-person or hybrid instruction.
However, I want to make clear that Arizona is not currently in a place to resume in-person or hybrid learning by August 17th. 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 in-person or hybrid instruction by August 17th.
Arizona is experiencing high community spread in rural and urban communities alike, and students and teachers should not be congregating in our school facilities. More official data and guidance will be released by ADHS no later than Friday, August 7, 2020.
LEAs can expect that the forthcoming metrics and corresponding guidance will be directly tied to the Roadmap for Reopening Schools. Using the scenarios laid out in the Roadmap for Reopening Schools, I encourage all school leaders and boards to meet to discuss the long-term implementation of Scenario 3.
Scenario 3– Substantial local/community spread
- All students distance learning from the start of the school year, with the option of returning to physical buildings when appropriate
- Resource: Considerations for School Leaders (Scenario 3)
- Schools providing targeted supports and school-based services for students and families
Thank you again for your patience, leadership, and commitment to serving Arizona’s students.
Kathy Hoffman, MS, CCC-SLP
Superintendent of Public Instruction