COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools - AZEdNews
Sections    Wednesday March 29th, 2023

COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools

A Dysart Unified Student Doing Learning Activities During In-person Classes. Photo Courtesy Dysart Unified School District

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Updated 3/11/2021: The recently passed COVID-19 pandemic aid bill provides Arizona public district and charter schools with $3.2 billion in federal funding

$465 million those federal funds are to be used to help students who fell behind academically during the pandemic, and $129 million will go to the Arizona Department of Education for learning loss

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman expressed her gratitude to Arizona’s congressional delegation who supported the passage of the American Rescue Plan. This infusion of federal funding is a major milestone in the recovery of Arizona’s schools and families. With nearly $2.6 billion dollars for K-12 education, the Arizona Department of Education will allocate 90% of those funds directly to public schools.

“The latest round of federal relief and recovery dollars comes at a time of high need for Arizona’s schools and families as many prepare for a return to some degree of in-person learning. From teaching and learning to providing critical wrap around supports, over the past year, every Arizonan has seen just how essential our schools are to our communities,” said Supt.Hoffman. “I am grateful to the members of Arizona’s delegation who supported the American Rescue Plan, their advocacy and their votes are essential to our recovery as a state.”

As outlined in the legislation, nearly $600 million of Arizona’s K-12 allocation will focus on determining what learning has occurred and how schools can combat learning loss.

Equally as important for Arizona families are recovery dollars to support childcare assistance, health care, including mental health supports, unemployment, and narrowing digital divide.

Every student and their family have faced a unique set of challenges over the past year related to their education or otherwise. The American Rescue Plan is another essential building block in the road to recovery.

It’s been a year since schools and businesses closed because of the spread of COVID-19, and many Arizona students will be getting back into the classroom next week.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 830,465 today from 828,630 yesterday, and 16,464 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 519,285 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,931 in Pima County, 47,261 in Pinal County, 36,588 in Yuma County, 21,502 in Mohave County, 18,069 in Yavapai County, 16,828 in Coconino County, 15,512  in Navajo County, 11,390 in Cochise County, 10,689 in Apache County, 7,666 in Santa Cruz County, 6,435 in Gila County, 5,326 in Graham County, 2,422 in La Paz County and 561 in Greenlee County.

Arizona Dept. of Health Services Interactive Graphic: (Hover over counties and boxes for more info)


Dysart Unified School District highlighted a Shadow Ridge High School’s Choir performance during Music in Our Schools Month.

Some photos of the car parade to the Capitol yesterday by teachers, parents and education advocates to encourage Arizona Legislators to support bills that support students, teachers and schools.

School counselors play a key role in ensuring students have positive educational experiences.

Need help filing your FAFSA? Here are some resources to help you get it done and qualify for federal and state financial aid for your college and vocational plans.

State legislatures around the country are introducing bills to restrict transgender girls and women from playing on girls’ and womens’ teams.

Glendale Community College is seeking a GCC student with 500 or more followers on Instagram for their new social media influencer position, learn more below.

Roosevelt School District shared this event for students’ families.

Learn more about the Teen Workforce Initiative to help with summer job hunting at this Phoenix Library Event.

Updated 3/10/21: University of Arizona joined Arizona State University, Northern Arizona University and Grand Canyon University to announce plans to return to mostly in-person learning for the fall semester of 2021.

This comes a week after Gov. Doug Ducey‘s Executive Order that Arizona public schools must provide in-person learning for students whose families choose that option to begin on March 15, which is just 5 days away, or the Monday after spring break.

Teachers, parents and other education advocates will hold a car parade at the Arizona Capitol at 3 p.m. today to protest Arizona Legislators efforts to block the voter approved Prop. 208 from going into effect and other bills that they think will be harmful to schools and educators if passed.

These decisions come as COVID-19 cases are declining in some areas of the state.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 828,630 today from 827,800 yesterday, and 16,404 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 517,726 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,790 in Pima County, 47,093 in Pinal County, 36,581  in Yuma County, 21,484 in Mohave County, 18,046 in Yavapai County, 16,795 in Coconino County, 15,702  in Navajo County, 11,359 in Cochise County, 10,662 in Apache County, 7,664 in Santa Cruz County, 6,424 in Gila County, 5,322 in Graham County, 2,421 in La Paz County and 561 in Greenlee County.

Sunnyside Unified students show off their college pride as they start preparing for higher education in elementary school.

Teachers discussed mental health and well-being at yesterday’s roundtable with Supt,. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

Yuma Elementary School District 1 is hosting Launch into Kindergarten drive through events at several schools this evening.

Queen Creek Unified is using spring break to replace flooring in its schools.

High school seniors make sure you fill out the FAFSA to qualify for federal and state financial aid for your college or vocational courses.

It’s time to enroll online for summer and fall classes at Maricopa Community Colleges.

Updated 3/9/21: Cartwright School District Supt. Dr. LeeAnn Aguilar-Lawlor assures students’ families that schools are prepared and ready to re-open with increased safety precautions and cleaning in response to Gov. Doug Ducey’s Executive Order last week, despite initially planning to continue distance learning through the end of the year due to COVID-19’s impact on the communities it serves.

Yuma Elementary School District #1 welcomed back students for in-person learning yesterday.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 827,800 today from 827,237 yesterday, and 16,326 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 517,132 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,642 in Pima County, 47,021 in Pinal County, 36,571  in Yuma County, 21,445 in Mohave County, 18,043 in Yavapai County, 16,781 in Coconino County, 15,765  in Navajo County, 11,338 in Cochise County, 10,667 in Apache County, 7,659 in Santa Cruz County, 6,423 in Gila County, 5,320 in Graham County, 2,422 in La Paz County and 561 in Greenlee County.

Learn more about why storytelling is so important in education.

Deer Valley Unified students plan and make biospheres.

Crane School District‘s Supt. Laurie Doering looks at what students are doing in class.

Listen to your students before making a plan to address learning loss, Education Week says

Learn some strategies to keep student loans low.

College Success Arizona welcomes a new board member who will focus on educational equity and the impact of opportunity gaps on students’ outcomes.

Updated 3/8/21: School districts are expected “to make a sincere, good effort to follow the law,” C.J. Karamargin, Gov. Doug Ducey’s communications director, told KTAR News 92.3 FM about the recent Executive Order requiring schools to provide in-person instruction by March 15 or the Monday after spring break.

During a special governing board meeting on Thursday evening, Cartwright School District Supt. Dr. Lee Ann Guilar-Lawlor said, “Our attorneys are saying that the order is very clear,” and that “There’s really no wiggle room and that we have to comply.”

Cartwright had originally planned to have students continue distance learning until the end of the year, but will now offer in-person learning on March 16 in response to the Executive Order.

When a Tucson hospital realized nurses and other staff were staying home to take care of their kids, they partnered with community organizations to open a place where kids could do their online learning with supervision and help.

A Scottsdale Unified School District senior tells students to be vigilant about social distancing especially if you or your friends have parents at home who are high risk.

Phoenix Union High School says celebrate Internaional Women’s Day by challenging gender bias and inequality, celebrate women’s achievements and choose to be inclusive.

Cronkite News shares why House Bill 2241 that would require Arizona students to learn about the Holocaust twice between 7th and 12th grades is so important.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 827,237 today from  826,454 yesterday, and 16,328 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 516,720 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,590 in Pima County, 46,980 in Pinal County, 36,571  in Yuma County, 21,429 in Mohave County, 18,024 in Yavapai County, 16,771 in Coconino County, 15,765  in Navajo County, 11,338 in Cochise County, 10,667 in Apache County, 7,659 in Santa Cruz County, 6,420 in Gila County, 5,319 in Graham County, 2,423 in La Paz County and 561 in Greenlee County.

With schools and more workplaces opening up, childcare availability is critical in getting parents back to work, especially women.

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman encourages students to apply to be a student advisor on the Arizona Dept. of Education’s councils.

How a first-grade teacher is preparing to welcome her students back to the classroom with routines and a safe environment.

Dysart Schools celebrates School Breakfast Week with activities, including a Blender Bike students can use to make smoothies.

See what will change as President Joe Biden reverses former President Trump’s administration’s rule on how schools respond to students’ reports of sexual harassment and assault.

Higley Schools honors women with these reminders on International Women’s Day.

Learn about state policies to expand access to tutoring during a Read On Arizona webinar tomorrow.

See why one Arizona Council on Economic Education director says financial literacy is so important for students.

University of Arizona is planning some in-person graduate-only commencement ceremonies tentatively from May 11 through May 18.

Arizona Education Association invites teachers, parents, students and other education advocates to take part in their Invest in Ed motor march to the Capitol on Wednesday, March 10 at 3 p.m. to let Arizona Legislators know that they should respect Arizona voters decision on Prop. 208 and support students not tax cuts.

Updated 3/5/21: Gov. Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order today that gets rid of business occupancy limitations, allows spring training and major league sports to open after their mitigation and safety plan is approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services and precludes mayors and local governments from implementing stricter measures.

During her news conference today on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, AZDHS Director Dr. Cara Christ said her staff was consulted on the order and they approved all the measures. Watch the news conference below.

AZ Dept of Health Services video: COVID-19 Vaccine Update – March 5, 2021

This comes two days after Gov. Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring all Arizona schools to return to in-person, teacher-led instruction by March 15 or after spring break and what their plans are to bring students back to campus again.

A few weeks after letting parents know they planned to remain in virtual learning for the rest of the school year because the incidence of COVID-19 in the community remained substantial , Cartwright School District says it’s preparing to return to in-person learning on March 15, 2021, per Gov. Ducey’s order. Learn more about that in the 3/3 and 3/4 updates below.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified No. 35 Supt. Dr. Dave Verdugo talks about students return to hybrid in-person learning on March 15.

Roosevelt School District shared a video with their Supt. Dr. Quintin Boyce talking about their revised return to school timeline and the in-person hybrid model that will start for students on Monday, March 22.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 823,384 today from  821,108 yesterday, and 16,269 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 514,132 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,287 in Pima County, 46,770 in Pinal County, 36,531  in Yuma County, 21,330 in Mohave County, 17,637 in Yavapai County, 16,687 in Coconino County, 15,729  in Navajo County, 11,292 in Cochise County, 10,643 in Apache County, 7,646 in Santa Cruz County, 6,417 in Gila County, 5,310 in Graham County, 2,413 in La Paz County and 560 in Greenlee County.

Many schools are offering summer schools to help students who have been struggling with distance learning during the pandemic.

Opting out of state-mandated testing and changing how students take them may re-start arguments about high-stakes assessments.

Chandler Unified celebrates staff members for their work serving students, teachers and staff.

Parents have gained greater insight into their children’s education during the pandemic.

Scottsdale Unified reminds parents middle and high school students will start full-day in-person learning on March 15.

Here are some strategies elementary school staff used to build a love of reading amongst students.

College students who need help with food security can find help here.

Dysart Unified reminds parents that Sunday is the last day to complete the parent survey.

Teachers plan to take part in a motorcade to the Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday, March 10 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. to let Arizona Legislators know they should respect Arizona voters decision on Prop. 208 and support students not tax cuts.

Updated 3/4/21: Cartwright School District‘s governing board and the school boards of other districts that had planned to continue virtual learning for the rest of the year are meeting this week to discuss Gov. Doug Ducey’s Executive Order yesterday requiring all Arizona schools to return to in-person, teacher-led instruction by March 15 or after spring break and what their plans are to bring students back to campus again.

Arizona’s public district schools have seen a 6 percent enrollment decline in the past year, with the largest decrease – 17% – in pre-school and kindergarten.

See what Arizona education advocates think about Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order in AZEdNews’ update yesterday below and take a look at what teachers think here.

The Arizona Department of Health Services and Maricopa County Department of Public Heath did not update the school dashboard after Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order yesterday, but will be doing so soon after they update processes reflecting differing time periods.

Take a look at what this year has been like for third-graders in one classroom in west Phoenix.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 821,108 today from 819,954 yesterday, and 16,185 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 513,035confirmed cases of COVID-19, 110,072 in Pima County, 46,630 in Pinal County, 36,516  in Yuma County, 21,291 in Mohave County, 17,120 in Yavapai County, 16,648 in Coconino County, 15,689  in Navajo County, 11,273 in Cochise County, 10,511 in Apache County, 7,641 in Santa Cruz County, 6,411 in Gila County, 5,299 in Graham County, 2,412 in La Paz County and 560 in Greenlee County.

Here’s a look at the vertical garden in two Alhambra School District classrooms.

Take a look at this article about how to talk with your children about disabilities.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District No. 35 lets families know that school meals will be delivered at bus stops and the parent pick up site during Spring Break.

A school psychologist says before school leaders call police on students, they should let school psychologists who are trained to de-escalate these situations do their job.

Avondale Elementary School District celebrates Community Relations Day.

Hear how a school leader helped meet the essential needs of her students’ families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Washington Elementary School District honors an instructional assistant for all she does for students and staff.

See what The All-Arizona Academic Team student scholarship recipients have planned for their future career goals.

Learn more about a partnership between Fountain Hills Unified School District, Arizona Business Advisors and the Town of Fountain Hills is making a difference.

Tempe Union High School District reminds parents when Care 7 parent support groups meet next.

Updated 3/3/21: Governor Doug Ducey today issued a new Executive Order requiring all Arizona schools to return to in-person, teacher-led instruction by March 15 or after spring break.

Middle and high schools in counties with high transmission of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC ⁠— only Coconino, Yavapai, and Pinal at this time — are exempt from the order.

Gov. Ducey said he issued the order after discussions with public school leaders and in accordance with updated guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control after 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties reached phases where schools could open safely.

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said the Arizona Department of Education is supportive of schools using layered mitigation strategies to safely initiate or expand in-person learning.

“However, the timing of this announcement will make it challenging for some schools that had already made plans to return to in-person instruction on a different schedule due to their local community circumstances,” Supt. Hoffman said.

“As a state, we should be collaborating to provide as much preparation and planning time as possible ahead of significant changes to school operations. To achieve stability for our school communities, it’s necessary to provide them with adequate time to inform and ready their staff, students and families,” Supt. Hoffman said.

With this new Executive Order (EO 2021-04), the Arizona Department of Education‘s goal will be to provide schools with the support needed to implement the requirements ahead of the March 15th reporting date.

“ADE would like to clarify that Tribal Sovereignty is still in effect regarding this new order – if a sovereign Tribal Nation has issued a stay-at-home order mandating students stay in distance learning, the new executive order does not impact them,” Supt. Hoffman said. 

“Since the onset of the pandemic, Arizona schools have prioritized their school communities’ safety and well-being. That is no different under EO-2021-04. The Department stands ready to support all schools as they foster safe teaching and learning environments,” Supt. Hoffman said.  

“Arizona’s students need to be back in the classroom. More than half of Arizona’s schools are open and offering in-person options. More schools need to follow their lead, and pave the way for equitable education options for every Arizona student,” Gov. Ducey said.

“The CDC and numerous health officials have said time and time again that schools are safe and kids can go back to the classroom. We prioritized teachers in our vaccine distribution, and many have already received their second dose,” Gov. Ducey said. “The science is clear: it’s time all kids have the option to return to school so they can get back on track and we can close the achievement gap.”

Arizona School Boards Association issued this statement in response to Gov. Ducey’s executive order.

“The latest Executive Order from Governor Ducey regarding school reopening follows a familiar yet predictable pattern of leading from behind,” the ASBA statement reads.

“At the outset of the pandemic a year ago, several school districts declared that they would not reopen immediately after their 2020 spring break. As those closures cascaded across Arizona, the state declared schools should close,” ASBA noted.

As education stakeholders pressed for some sort of data to avoid having to make arbitrary decisions on reopening, the state finally decided to develop metrics on community spread.

“As school leaders began asking (and offering to assist in) developing a plan to ensure schools could budget effectively for distance learning, the governor developed, then underfunded, without consultations, a plan to fund distance learning,” ASBA said.

Throughout the pandemic, ASBA has called for greater empowerment and resourcing of the Arizona Department of Health Services and county health departments to consult with districts and conduct testing and contact tracing operations to safely reopen schools.

“Those calls were ignored, and county health departments remain overwhelmed,”the ASBA statement reads.

“Now, as many districts have already set a target of mid-March to evaluate their reopening plans, another executive order is issued, with no advance warning, upending all that planning and undermining weeks of communication efforts by districts with parents and staff about what they can expect in the weeks ahead,” ASBA said.

“After setting up a system where the default has been for governing boards to make decisions with no state support, Governor Ducey has stepped in at the 11th hour to make certain all these decisions are made on his terms,” ASBA noted.

“We now once again have more questions than answers. What is the process for determining if a school should close due to an increase in cases? Schools are now prohibited from closing unless the county health department approves – but testing and contact tracing on which to make that decision barely exist. What about schools located on reservations where tribal governments have issued stay-at-home orders? We’ll get back to you. What if a majority of the parents in your district are still afraid to send their children to school? Open anyway.”

“School district governing boards and superintendents have spent a year in the field dealing with these issues, and their experience and expertise in school operations is continually dismissed and disregarded as unimportant. We are forced to conclude that the governor simply doesn’t care whether things get done right or done well, but rather on his terms and time frame and if he gets credits for doing them,” ASBA said.

“Yet again, we have squandered an opportunity to cooperate and reach an enduring solution. Instead, we will continue the governor’s way of muddling through until the next crisis,” ASBA stated.

“There remain opportunities for the governor to lead – and not from behind this time. As the state receives historic additional funding from the federal government, he could prioritize schools to ensure investments and remediation are made to school capital facilities to allow for a safer learning environment. He could invest in school counselors – Arizona has the highest counselor-to-student ratio in the country – who will have their hands full with returning students full of anxiety and unsure of the future. Most importantly, he could re-dedicate to working collaboratively with school districts – ALL of them, not just some – to be a partner in leading for public education in a post-pandemic world. The ball is in his court.,” ASBA said.

Gov. Ducey’s order was supported by the Arizona Legislature’s House and Senate Education Chairs.

“Arizona’s kids and families have undergone a tremendous amount of stress throughout the pandemic,” said Senate Education Chair Paul Boyer.“I’m glad to see more students going back to the classroom, and today’s guidance from the Arizona Department of Health Services will help ensure families that are ready to send their kids back can do so.”

“The data is clear — kids can go back to school,” said House Education Chair Michelle Udall. “Many students have fallen behind, especially those in low income communities. The Governor’s order will protect students’ needs, while following CDC guidance.” 

Arizona Education Association issued the following statement in response to Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order.

“For the past 11 months, educators have gone above and beyond to provide our students with learning opportunities as our communities were living through a pandemic. From the day the governor told schools to shift to distance learning the Arizona Education Association has been very clear in calling for the resources needed to support a safe return to in-person instruction,” Arizona Education Association said.

“Throughout the summer and fall we continued to call on Governor Ducey to implement a statewide COVID-19 school safety plan,” said Joe Thomas, president of Arizona Education Association. “He refused to meet with educators and left it to school districts to develop their own plans. Now, after educators, school administrators, and parents have done the hard work to move toward reopening schools (and remain open), the governor issues an executive order to take credit for others’ year-long planning and efforts without offering any resources.”

“The safety of our students and educators is our number one priority, but guaranteeing safety in a pandemic requires additional funding. Making safe in-person instruction a reality requires state mandates and resources that compel and allow school districts and institutions of higher education to put in place the mitigating measures necessary to protect against COVID-19. When the proper mitigation precautions are taken — masking, social distancing, proper ventilation, contact tracing, hand washing — the data and the science suggests a return to in-person learning may be possible. The science also says that community spread is key to keeping our schools safe, yet Governor Ducey has chosen to focus on reopening schools without any kind of measures to mitigate community spread such as a statewide mask mandate,” according to AEA’s statement.

“Additionally, we must take the time thank the educators who have taken on the challenging work of educating through a global pandemic,” Thomas said. “We must thank the parents who have worked with educators to take on the difficult work keeping our students’ learning on track and making plans to return to in-person instruction.”

These collaborative efforts of educators, parents, students, and public health experts – coming together to reopen school buildings safely and equitably, following the guidance from public health authorities by implementing distancing, retrofitting ventilation systems, and providing the PPE and supplies needed – are the reason our students and educators can return to the classroom safely, AEA said.

“We have learned an incredible amount about the inequities in our education system through this time of crisis and about the devastating impact of years of neglect and underfunding our schools by state leaders,” Thomas said. “We have learned that our most vulnerable students, those living in poverty and our students of color, have been impacted the most. We must remember these lessons as we return to in-person instruction. We have a better understanding about the resources our students need and deserve. We need elected leaders with the will to provide those resources so our students can be successful now and after the pandemic.”

Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order updates school reopening benchmarks developed and announced in August 2020, with the metrics recently developed by the CDC. The metrics define low, moderate, substantial and high transmission levels with operational strategies for schools to reopen at all transmission levels. The Arizona Department of Health Services released the latest county-by-county information based on the CDC metrics.

COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools 3-3-21-COVID-rates-by-County

Since schools went to online instruction or virtual learning in March 2020, many schools have experienced a decline in enrollment that has affected their budgets.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 819,954 today from  818,670 yesterday, and 16,089 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 512,286 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 109,941 in Pima County, 46,528 in Pinal County, 36,469  in Yuma County, 21,266 in Mohave County, 17,084  in Yavapai County, 16,635 in Coconino County, 15,678  in Navajo County, 11,252 in Cochise County, 10,503 in Apache County, 7,637  in Santa Cruz County, 6,409 in Gila County, 5,296 in Graham County, 2,406 in La Paz County and 560 in Greenlee County.

Chandler Unified School District honors key staff and community partners.

Hear about an orchestra in Paraguay where youth play instruments made out of items found in a landfill.

Updated 3/2/21: The Arizona Interscholastic Association announced today that due to decreasing COVID-19 cases that they have removed the mask mandate for spring sports, winter playoffs and spiritline, when students are actively playing, but masks are still required for all spectators. Read more about it below.

The State of Arizona Research Library honors Arizona’s Latina Trailblazers as part of Women’s History Month.

Phoenix Union High School District thanks its social workers for all they do for students, families and staff.

Project Lead the Way students experiment to see which fuels would work best for a rocket.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 818,670 today from 817,821 yesterday, and 16,060 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 511.636 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 109,684 in Pima County, 46,322 in Pinal County, 36,458  in Yuma County, 21,242 in Mohave County, 17,069  in Yavapai County, 16,599 in Coconino County, 15,657  in Navajo County, 16,599 in Cochise County, 10,469 in Apache County, 7,633  in Santa Cruz County, 6,410 in Gila County, 5,297 in Graham County, 2,401 in La Paz County and 560 in Greenlee County.

U.S. Dept of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona leads the way to open schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

United Way of Tucson suggests celebrating Read Across America Week with books that highlight our state and nation’s diversity.

Mesa Public Schools honors its Mountain View High School We The People team.

Sen. Christine Marsh spoke about the loss of her son to a deadly overdose and how she’s created legislation she hopes will save lives.

For many teachers their daily connections and conversations with students are rewarding, so how did distance learning impact that?

Make time for yourself on World Teen Mental Wellness Day.

Heard Museum‘s exhibit shared how artist Leon Polk Smith was influenced by the culture he saw around him.

See how Glendale Community College plans to celebrate Women’s History Month.

Updated 3/1/21: Students who have had difficulty during online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic may be attending summer school to help them catch up this summer.

On the first say of Women’s History Month, Arizona Capitol Museum will share more on women who made Arizona history.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 817,821 today from 816,782 yesterday, and 15,979 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 511.055 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 109,601 in Pima County, 46,233 in Pinal County, 36,445  in Yuma County, 21,218 in Mohave County, 17,062  in Yavapai County, 16,579 in Coconino County, 15,647  in Navajo County, 16,579 in Cochise County, 10,464 in Apache County, 7,632  in Santa Cruz County, 6,405 in Gila County, 5,293 in Graham County, 2,399 in La Paz County and 559 in Greenlee County.

See what Tempe Elementary is doing to encourage student and family engagement.

Parents say these Tucson Unified School District teachers go the extra mile for students.

College Goal Arizona encourages all Arizona high school seniors to complete the FAFSA to qualify for federal and state financial aid for their education and training after high school.

See the top high school boys basketball teams heading into Week 6 around the state.

A new report shares how much the average school district spent on instruction during the past school year.

Peoria Unified celebrates two National Merit Scholarship finalists.

Sen. Livingston shares how a bill becomes a law during a detailed tour of the Arizona Senate for 8th graders in his district.

Learn more about Coconino Community College‘s Auto Tech classes and get an early start on your post-secondary education with summer classes.

Cave Creek Unified honors DECA Teacher Dr. Cynhia Bezard.

Check out this program that partners with young people to keep them on track to finish their education and launch their careers.

It’s Read Across America Week, ask your student what their school is doing to take part.

Updated 2/25/21: Tucson Unified School District like many other Arizona school districts will re-open for students’ in-person learning on campus after Spring Break.

Now parents are choosing whether they want their students to remain in distance learning or return to the classroom.

Tolleson Union High School District, in an area hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, will also provide in-person instruction for students starting on March 22.

Nearly a year after online learning began, students and parents will decide whether to return to their high school campus or continue online learning.

“We understand that even through some of our students will be returning to in-person learning, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. It has not gone away. The expectation on our campuses for both students and school staff is that you will continue to adhere closely to our COVID-19 protocols,” said Tolleson Union High School District Supt. Dr. Nora Gutierrez, in a letter to students’ families yesterday.

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman let parents know that in-person learning is a safe option for students when mitigation steps are taken to ensure health and safety for students and staff. during a news conference yesterday.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 812,907 today from  811,968 yesterday, and 15,814 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 507,951 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 108,952 in Pima County, 45,925 in Pinal County, 36,375  in Yuma County, 21.050 in Mohave County, 16,990  in Yavapai County, 16,385 in Coconino County, 15,525  in Navajo County, 11,128 in Cochise County, 10,391 in Apache County, 7,620  in Santa Cruz County, 6,387 in Gila County, 5,280 in Graham County, 2,390 in La Paz County and 558 in Greenlee County.

Updated 2/24/21: Dr. Cara Christ said the Arizona Department of Health Services is working the Arizona Department of Education to develop guidelines to safely bring students back to campus for in-person learning during a news conference today where faith leaders encouraged Arizonans to get the COVID-19 vaccination when it is their turn. Watch it live below.

AZ Dept. of Health Services video: COVID-19 Vaccine Event – Feb. 24, 2021

“Three weeks ago today, I had the pleasure of vaccinating the religious leaders who are joining us here today,” Dr. Christ said. “Today I’m happy to complete the cycle by administering the second dose of Pfizer vaccine.”

“More than 1.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Arizona to over 1 million people,” Dr. Christ said. “Arizona continues to make great strides in vaccinating people against this virus, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”

“Next week, a much used vaccination site in the East Valley becomes the fourth state vaccination site. This positions us to vaccinate many Arizona’s quickly and efficiently when our supplies permit,” Dr. Christ said.

“Events like these allows us to look forward to the day when vaccines will help us return to a more normal way of life of being together in houses of worship and other settings,” Dr. Christ said.

“When your turn arrives for the vaccination, please follow the example of those here today and take it,” Dr. Christ said.

Dr. Christ reminds people that side effects from the vaccine are normal and signal your body is producing an immune response to the vaccine.

“These vaccines are the light at the end of the tunnel and they are one of the most effective public health tools wed have for fighting disease,” Dr. Christ said.

Then Dr. Warren H. Stewart, Sr., pastor at First Institutional Baptist Church, said “This is an example of the intersection between faith and medicine.”

COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools Dr-Stewart-2-24-21
Dr. Warren H. Stewart

“It has been proven in all major religions that there is a connection between spirituality and one’s health,” Dr. Stewart said.

“That’s why we as clergy and as faith leaders are just extremely thankful to God for our Department of Health Services and Governor’s Office of Faith, Youth and Family who have partnered with us together to see the intersection with faith and medicine to combat the deadly disease of COVID-19,” Dr. Stewart said.

Dr. Christ said the Arizona Department of Health is working to translate their web page into Spanish to make it more accessible to more Arizonans.

In addition, AZDHS reached out the community with telephonic town hall with community members in the 85009 Zip Code with partners and will be repeated again in a few weeks, Dr. Christ said.

“As we get more vaccine we’re trying to get more community based and local vaccination sites places like community colleges and churches, where people live nearby so there’s not a barrier based on transportation or something else to go get vaccinated,” Dr. Christ said.

Dr. Christ said they are working on a list of fields for critical workers to get people prioritized as the state moves into Phase I B of vaccinating essential workers.

“COVID-19 vaccine availability is expected to ramp up between March and April,” said Dr. Christ in response to a question of when the general population may be able to get the vaccine.

Reopening schools

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman held a news conference today with Dr. Jason Vargas, president of the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and Ylenia Aguilar, Governing Board President of Osborn School District, to discuss the next steps for schools to return to in-person learning safely.

“I recognize that some school communities need more time to plan and prepare. I want to support schools at every stage, so that when they do resume in-person learning, they are doing so safely with mitigation strategies in place, enforced, and with the support of their families, students, and teachers.” Supt. Hoffman said.

“We know that child-to-child spread is not the cause of community transmission; it simply mirrors what is going on the community. Because of that and to keep our schools open we must do our best to decrease risk of community spread,” said Dr. Vargas with the Arizona Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “We all have a shared responsibility to ensure there is as little disease as possible circulating in the community when we send our children back.”

“Every school district will need to make the appropriate decisions in order to keep their communities safe, so we should expect that many decisions will be different across Arizona,” said Ylenia Aguilar, Governing Board President of Osborn School District . “It will take a community effort to support and manage the safe reopening of schools for in-person learning.”

To support schools’ efforts for a safe return to in-person learning, the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) recently announced allocations from the second federal COVID-19 relief bill. These one-time recovery funds will be critical to helping schools implement mitigation strategies like improved ventilation.   

Additionally, the ADE used discretionary funds to ensure that all non-profit public schools receive federal funding, regardless of their size or location. This decision is critical to supporting our small, rural, and remote schools, which far too often are left behind when resources are allocated.

Click here for more.

When asked about recommendations for schools to reopen safely, Dr. Christ said, “The CDC just came out with recommendations for re-opening schools. My team is taking a look and seeing what their recommendations are. What mitigation strategies they are recommending and we’re going to make recommendations.”

“I was speaking with the Department of Education this morning, and so they’re very excited about the mitigation strategies. They want kids back in school and they want schools to be opening safely,” Dr. Christ said.

“We’ll be continuing to work together with them on that guidance as we get it developed,” Dr. Christ said.

As distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic nears a year, Arizona’s Republican legislators are seeking to expand ESA eligibility to nearly 70 percent of Arizona students, despite voters rejecting voucher expansion just two years ago.

Littleton Elementary School District reminds parents it’s time to make their fourth quarter learning choice for their students.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 811,968 today from  810,658 yesterday, and 15,693 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 507,480 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 108,772 in Pima County, 45,865 in Pinal County, 36,3456  in Yuma County, 20,992 in Mohave County, 16,975  in Yavapai County, 15,513  in Navajo County, 16,360  in Coconino County, 11,100 in Cochise County, 10,357 in Apache County, 7,611  in Santa Cruz County, 6,366 in Gila County, 5,280 in Graham County, 2,383 in La Paz County and 557 in Greenlee County.

Queen Creek Unified School District students take part in a Socratic Seminar discussing their article on COVID-19 and video games.

House Bill 2015 seeks to provide funding for high-quality preschool for low-income families.

Norterra Canyon Middle School Marching Band shares their music with fellow students.

How the COVID-19 pandemic impacted state invitational tournaments for high school athletes for most conferences.

Phoenix Elementary School District‘s Thomas A. Edison Elementary students have shown surprising success with distance learning.

Earlier coverage

Feb. 11 to Feb. 23U.S. Dept of Ed: Students must take standardized tests, but there’s flexiblity on when & how

Feb. 2 to Feb. 9Video: Supt. Hoffman gives State of Special Education address

Jan. 21 to Feb. 1Black History Mural Month Project to highlight pioneers of the Black community launches in Phoenix

Jan. 10 – Jan 20How students engage with Inauguration Day

Dec. 21, 2020 to Jan 8, 2021Teachers help students deal with attacks on Congress, Capitol

Nov. 30 – Dec. 16Watch it now: Dr. Christ asks people to avoid holiday gatherings with people they do not live with

Nov. 18 – 25COVID-19 cases rise before Thanksgiving adding to school and hospital leaders’ concerns

Nov. 16: More schools return to online learning as COVID-19 cases rise

Nov. 2 – 13: $19 M grant would help schools with teacher development, stipends, reading & math curriculum, summer ed resources and more

Oct. 20 to Oct. 30: AZDHS amends COVID-19 school benchmarks

Oct. 7 – Oct. 19What are teachers doing ahead of elections to support students afterwards

Aug. 25 – Sept. 8: Parents voice concern about online class size; school nurses prepare for students

Aug. 12 – Aug. 24: Students, teachers affected by Zoom outage

July 30 – Aug. 11Parent organizes co-op for learners; group rallies for in-person school days after benchmarks release

July 13- July 30: Teachers prepare for digital learning and back to school

June 29 – July 12Video: Gov. says ‘Goal is to get children back to school when it’s safe;’ Schools lay out learning models

June 29: Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19

June 15 – June 29: Video: Gov. pauses re-opening of some businesses as COVID-19 cases rise

June 24: Plan provides more funding, flexible instruction as schools re-open

May 26 – June 12: Increase in COVID-19 cases marks a new daily high

May 20 – 25: AZ Dept. of Ed releases COVID-19 guidance to schools for summer programs, back to school

May 11 – 19: Arizonans consider workplace safety, what back to school will look like amid COVID-19

April 26 – May 10: Stores re-open, COVID-19 testing blitz resumes on Saturday

April 8 – 25You can get tested now if you think you’ve been exposed to COVID-19

March 12 – April 7Coronavirus response: Cases rise; AZ Day of Giving