Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now - AZEdNews
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Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now

Image Of The Coronavirus COVID-19 Courtesy Of U.S. Centers For Disease Control

Update March 27: The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 665, up from 508 yesterday, and 13 Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 399 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 36 in Pinal County, 102 in Pima County, 41 in Coconino County, 49 in Navajo County, 11 in Apache County, 2 in Cochise County, 4 in Graham County, 2 in Santa Cruz County, 9 in Yavapai County, 4 in Yuma County, 4 in Mohave County and 2 in La Paz County.

ADHS said the level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Arizona is widespread.

Grocery stores around the nation are reminding people to share the kindness and only buy what they need.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved the $2.2 trillion rescue package to help the U.S. economy and health care system overwhelmed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Then President Donald Trump signed the unprecedented economic rescue package into law on Friday.

At schools today

If school was open it would have been Roosevelt School District’s Cesar Chavez Leadership Academy’s annual Cesar Chavez Day celebration so staff paraded around the neighborhood in their cars today.

Salt River Schools reminded students and their families that today is the last day to pick up their book packs, and asked parents to respond to the survey in the book pack.

Deer Valley Unified School District is providing food boxes to support families in need with help from Phoenix First Church of the Nazarene, St Mary’s Food Bank and the team from Constitution Elementary School.

Mesa Unified’s Hale Elementary School teacher Melinda Knoles was surprised by students and families at her door step after being awarded the 12 News A+ Teacher of the Week.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District thanked their food service leader and staff for their great work organizing the districts Grab and Go Food Service.

Glendale Community College thanked their staff who are keeping their campus clean and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Yuma Union High School District and Helios Education Foundation are reminding people to fill out the 2020 Census because it helps funding for school and other programs that benefit students and youth in the community.

Related article:
What distance learning looks like for AZ schools during COVID-19 pandemic

Head Start lets parents know that Sesame Street had make learning at home easier by making 110 of its e-books free.

Madison Elementary School District administrators also let their students know just how much they miss them.

Sierra Vista Unified School District is starting its food delivery on Monday and made sure families had all the details.

Salt River Schools celebrated PJ Day during is virtual school spirit week.

While Chandler Unified is updating its meal service for students and providing info about it.

In Prescott, Lincoln School staff waved to cars passing by school.

And don’t forget it’s still Women’s History Month.

Estrella Mountain Community College students seeking help should know school resources are still available to them.

Families who are seeking resources might want to check out this list from Valley of the Sun United Way.

And Roadrunner Elementary educators held a car parade to connect with students.

Updated March 26: The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 508, up from 403 yesterday, and eight Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 299 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 35 in Pinal County, 75 in Pima County, 28 in Coconino County, 43 in Navajo County, 9 in Apache County, 2 in Cochise County, 2 in Graham County, 1 in Santa Cruz County, 5 in Yavapai County, 4 in Yuma County, 2 in Mohave County and 2 in La Paz County.

ADHS said the level of community transmission of COVID-19 in Arizona is widespread.

In Maricopa County, 161 patients are male while 138 female, there are two cases in children ages 17 and under, 58 of the 299 cases were hospitalized, 20 were in intensive care and four died, and 35% of those infected are between the ages of 18 to 39; 33% are 40 to 59 and 30% are 60 or older.

Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Thursday requiring hospitals to activate their emergency plans.

Meanhile, more Americans have filed for unemployment as of today, than during the Great Recession.

What schools are doing

Alhambra Elementary students and their parents received their learning packets today.

Pathway Athletics encouraged students to maintain social distancing and sent a message to their students.

To spread some love to seniors unable to have visitors at their nursing homes, students wrote letters and sent art.

Take a quick look to see how Queen Creek Unified’s Food and Nutrition department prepares all those meals for students.

Tomorrow, Chasse Building Team will take questions from students and provide some hands on learning from home.

Updated March 25: During a 2 p.m. press conference today about the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Gov. Doug Ducey said he is focusing on keeping Arizonans as safe as possible from this disease, expanding testing, giving health care professionals what they need to help patients, and expanding hospital capacity.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Doug-Ducey-Press-conference-3-25-2-p.m.-1024x576
Gov. Doug Ducey talks about his priorities at a 2 p.m. press conference on March 25, 2020. Photo courtesy Arizona Department of Health Services

“This morning, Intel, another great corporate citizen in Arizona, donated 50,000 surgical masks to the state,” Gov. Ducey said. “We need more than that, but every bit makes a difference, and it’s a key focus of our team all day, every day, and many of the evenings as well.”

Also, Arizona received a waiver for it’s Medicare program, which “ensures that no child on KidsCare will lose their insurance because their parent can’t afford their premium,” Gov. Ducey said.

To expand access to care in rural Arizona, “we are waiving the rules requiring a physician to oversee certified, registered nurse anesthetists, freeing them up to provide other needed medical services,” Gov. Ducey said.

Arizona Department of Health Services: March 25, 2020 2 p.m. press conference with Gov. Doug Ducey

Over the last few weeks, the numbers of COVID-19 cases have continued to climb, and “we expect greater increases as we move forward,” said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“While testing capacity has increased, we continue to face a shortage of personal protective equipment, testing supplies and reagents,” Dr. Christ said. ‘At this time, there’s simply not enough tests for everyone who wants one so we will continue to prioritize our high risk populations.”

Earlier today, Gov. Doug Ducey said that Arizona has received more than $5.3 million in grant funding from the Department of Health and Human Services to help Arizona communities provide meals for older adults during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The $5,356,670 in grant funding will provide for senior meal programs, with two-thirds of that supporting home meal delivery, and programs serving senior centers and are part of a relief package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020. 

“These dollars will help Arizona keep our seniors safe and healthy at a critical time,” Gov. Ducey said. “I’m grateful to members of both parties who supported this legislation and to the Department of Health and Human Services for making these resources available.”

This morning, Gov. Ducey also asked the federal government to expand nutritional assistance under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and changes to federal food assistance programs in Arizona that would allow the purchase of hot meals with these benefits and result in quicker eligibility approval.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 401, up from 326 yesterday, and six Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 251 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 23 in Pinal County, 49 in Pima County, 23 in Coconino County, 37 in Navajo County, 7 in Apache County, 1 in Cochise County, 2 in Graham County, 1 in Santa Cruz County, 4 in Yavapai County, 3 in Yuma County and 1 in Mohave County.

With many schools starting distance learning this week, WestEd is offering a webinar to help with that.

To hear how one veteran teacher is reacting to the school closures, listen to this KJZZ 91.5 FM story.

School districts are also doing their best to connect students and their families with local resources during this time of need.

School districts are also helping their students find wi-fi hotspots they can use to do distance learning.

Updated March 24: Gov. Doug Ducey launched an initiative today to connect Arizonans with the resources they need during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The Arizona Together initiative at, will help residents and businesses connect to resources, raise money for community organization and provide information about volunteer opportunities.

“As we work to combat the spread of COVID-19, access to resources that can help support families and businesses in this time of need is critical,” said Gov. Ducey. “We’re calling on Arizonans to be informed, get engaged, and support organizations doing important work to keep our communities safe and healthy. Arizona will get through this together.”

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 326, up from 234 yesterday, and five Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 199 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 22 in Pinal County, 42 in Pima County, 18 in Coconino County, 32 in Navajo County, 4 in Apache County, 1 in Cochise County, 2 in Graham County, 1 in Santa Cruz County, 3 in Yavapai County and 2 in Yuma County.

And today there’s news that 15 ASU students have tested positive for COVID-19.

In addition, Gov. Ducey issued an executive order today delaying eviction for renters quarantining due to COVID-19 or are facing economic hardship as a result of the outbreak. It will remain in effect for 120 days. 

Also, BStrong is partnering with Arizona to secure masks and other personal protective gear for AZ healthcare workers.

The AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund, which is part of the Arizona Together initiative, will provide financial support to organizations working to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 in Arizona. Initially, the fund will focus on:

  • Funding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline medical personnel.
  • Supporting non-profit organizations that help vulnerable Arizonans through food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence facilities and other services.
  • Expanding technology access for low-income students to help them transition to online learning.

Arizona Cardinals Chairman and President Michael J. Bidwil has provided a founding contribution of $1 million to the AZ Coronavirus Relief Fund.

“Like so many in our community, this unprecedented crisis has us asking what we can do to help and what might have the greatest impact,” Bidwill said.

“We are grateful for the creation of this relief fund, are proud to support its critically important mission and hope that others throughout the community can join this effort in whatever way that they are able,” Bidwill said.

“As a team, we will continue to work on additional ways to make a difference and know that as a community we will get through this challenging time together,” Bidwill said.

Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said, “We continue to see a need for donations and volunteers to help Arizona beat this pandemic.”

“Our food banks, hospitals, youth centers, and nonprofits serving the community all need support,” Dr. Christ said.

“We’re calling on Arizonans to come together and help where they can, while continuing to follow safe practices and the guidance of public health,” Dr. Christ said.

On Monday, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order that requires Arizona counties, cities and towns to coordinate and be consistent with advice from the Arizona Department of Health Services and any stay-at-home order will be coordinated with the state before it’s issued.

To read what are considered essential services in Gov. Ducey’s executive order, please click here.

What schools, teachers and students are doing

Meanwhile, many Arizona students are taking part in distance learning, which can look different at different schools.

For some students it’s a continuation of what they’re doing in class.

Tolleson Union High School District teachers began providing online learning and instruction for students this week to ensure they meet the state requirements for graduation.

Parents are also stepping up to teach their students at home to make sure the skills they’re working on stay sharp.

For other students its finding ways to keep connected and be creative.

Check out this resource parents can use to help kids better understand what’s going on.

Remember, sometimes kids need to have fun and learn through play.

Teachers from Mabel Padgett Elementary School held an impromptu parade through the neighborhood.

Many Arizona schools are making sure that students don’t go hungry by preparing grab and go meals they can eat at home.

March 23

With students learning from home due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic, Arizona PBS has partnered to provide free, educational content for students in pre-K through 12th grade, according to a KJZZ 91.5 FM article.

For pre-K to Grade 3 students, educational content will be broadcast on Arizona PBS from 5 a.m. to 6:30 a.m., then available online or on the Arizona PBS Kids channel.

For students in Grades 4 to 8, content will be broadcast from 6:30 a.m. to noon.

For high school students, programming will broadcast between 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., when regular programming resumes.

Valley Metro reminds bus and light rail riders to maintain 6 feet of social distancing while riding public transit as the number of confirmed COVID-19 Coronavirus cases rise in Arizona.

The number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 235, up from 152 yesterday, and two Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the the Arizona Department of Health Services.

“The sad reality is that like the rest of the country we expect more deaths and we expect more confirmed cases,” said Gov. Doug Ducey during a 1 p.m. press conference.

The state is not moving to a stay at home or shelter in place policy yet, because we’re not at the same place as other states, Gov. Ducey said.

“We all know the risks, the virus is most harmful to those we love the most – our parents and grandparents,” Gov. Ducey said.

Gov. Ducey said he is issuing a executive order for employers to determine what is an essential service.

“We know this is creating economic challenges and we will be addressing those in the days, weeks and months ahead,” Gov. Ducey said.

In Maricopa County, there are 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 17 in Pinal County, 24 in Pima County, 17 in Coconino County, 25 in Navajo County, 4 in Apache County, 1 in Cochise County, 2 in Graham County, 1 in Santa Cruz County, 3 in Yavapai County and 1 in Yuma County.

Forty-one confirmed cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory and 194 through a private laboratory, according to a 12 News story

Banner Health has opened up four drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in Arizona. Patients need to be pre-screened by phone before arriving, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.

Meanwhile, teachers are meeting to provide distance learning opportunities and connecting with students by driving through a neighborhood so students can see them.

As Arizona public schools provide distance learning and meals for students, school nurses are also letting parents pick up the medicines they had at schools for their students.

Parents seeking services can also look at this list of resources.

March 22

Earlier today, Gov. Doug Ducey launched a 2-1-1 COVID-19 Coronavirus hotline to answer people’s questions about the virus to avoid misinformation.

Arizona also received a shipment of protective gear for medical professionals.

The Crisis Response Network administers the hotline made possible through $2 million from the Dept. of Economic Security, according to an ABC 15 story.

The number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today to 152 from yesterday, and two Arizonans have died from the virus, according to the the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 81 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 16 in Pinal County, 17 in Pima County, 14 in Coconino County, 13 in Navajo County, 3 in Apache County, 1 in Cochise County, 1 in Graham County, 1 in Santa Cruz County, 3 in Yavapai County and 1 in Yuma County.

Thirty seven confirmed cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed by the Arizona State Public Health Laboratory and 115 through a private laboratory, according to a 12 News story

While schools remained closed, many are still providing meal service and online or distance education opportunities, meaning they are still providing essential services for their students as Phoenix Union High School District Superintendent Dr. Chad Gestson points out in the video below.

Also, Arizona School Boards Association and Arizona Association of School Business Officials will hold a webinar at 10 a.m. March 25 to provide information about the recently passed fiscal year 2021 K-12 education baseline budget and approved legislation about school closures related to COVID-19 disease.

If you’d like to participate, please re-register using this link:

Click here to register for the webinar.

March 20:

Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced Thursday afternoon that the current school closures will be extended until Friday, April 10 in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

The number of diagnosed cases of COVID-19 Coronavirus in Arizona rose today from yesterday, and Arizona reported its first death from the virus.

A Maricopa County man in his 50s who worked for the Phoenix Aviation Department died from COVID-19, state and Maricopa County health officials said Friday night, according to an Arizona Republic story.

There are 63 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arizona on Friday, up from 46 on Thursday, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Three hundred forty three people have been tested, and of those 211 tests have been ruled out as COVID-19 with 101 tests pending, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Thirty-four confirmed COVID-19 cases are in Maricopa County, 10 are in Pinal County, 8 are in Pima County, 1 in Yavapai County, 3 in Navajo County, 5 in Coconino County, 1 in Graham County and 1 in Santa Cruz County.

Food banks across the state said they served more clients this week than at any other time in the past year.

In Renton, Washington, Providence St. Joseph Health is seeking help from people with sewing machines and sewing skills to create surgical masks for medical staff.

A number of teachers have been posting learning activities for their students online during this time when schools are closed.

But some students may feel disconnected and at a loss without their friends and teachers at this time, so its important to recognize that and be supportive of their needs.

Many Arizona schools are providing food and meal delivery to make sure their students have plenty to eat during this critical time.

Parents can ease up on some of the screen time limitation restrictions as well since playing videogames helps with some of the soft skills students are encouraged to develop, according to Edutopia.

Many schools across the nation worry that a decrease in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic will result in lower funding for public schools, according to Education Week.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Education announced that states can apply for testing waivers for the current school year.

Updated March 19, 2020

As the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise, Arizona cities are taking steps to reduce residents interactions as a way to reduce the spread.

This evening, Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order to implement changes statewide to slow the spread of coronavirus, including requiring restaurants in counties with confirmed cases of COVID-19 to provide dine-out options only, closing all bars, movie theaters and gyms in affected counties as well as activating the National Guard to help grocery stores and food banks.  

Gov. Ducey’s order also halts elective surgeries to free up medical resources, and delayed expiration dates on Arizona drivers licenses and commercial drivers licenses.

After Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego declared a state of emergency for the City of Phoenix closing bars and moving restaurants to delivery, takeout and drive-thru service only, several other cities followed suit, including Gilbert, Mesa, Tempe, Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage and Scottsdale and Flagstaff.

Later in the day, Peoria and Surprise also declared a state of emergency.

Starting today, coverage of the Arizona Legislature’s budget process will be in a separate story.

Click here for Arizona Legislature budget updates

The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Arizona rose to 44 cases on Thursday from 29 on Wednesday, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services

Twenty-two cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Maricopa County, 10 in Pinal County, 7 in Pima County, 3 in Navajo County, 1 in Coconino County, and 1 in Graham County. There have been no reported deaths so far.

During a press conference this morning, Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ said schools are a critical hub for services for students and thanked schools for their efforts to continue to provide educational opportunities, meals and other student support services.

“We must work together to mitigate the spreading of this disease,” Dr. Christ said.

To mitigate community spread, stay home, and if anyone in the household has COVID-19 everyone in the home should stay home, Dr. Christ said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Dr.-Christ-3-19-press-conference
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ speaks at a press conference on COVID-19 this morning of March 19, 2020. Photo courtesy 12 News.

She also reminded people to avoid hospitals or nursing homes unless they were there to provide critical care for patients.

“There are now several commercial laboratories that can test for COVID19,” Dr. Christ said. “There are not enough tests for everyone who wants to be tested at this time.”

People should seek emergency care if they have difficulty breathing, and have severe pain in their chest, Dr. Christ said.

As of today, the public health lab has tested 350 people, Dr. Christ said.

People with mild symptoms of the disease should stay home, take plenty of fluids, rest and call their physician.

Unless it is an emergency, do not go to the emergency room, because physicians need to focus on the most critical patients, Dr. Christ said.

“Our first thought during this crisis have been to protect public health,” said Gov. Doug Ducey at the press conference.

Gov. Ducey said we’re going to be working with state and federal government to help local businesses impacted by this COVID-19 pandemic.

March 18

The Arizona Legislature recessed today after passing bills to discuss a streamlined budget Thursday morning and possibly end the session in response to COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now 3-18-AZ-COW-meets-1024x583
Arizona Legislature’s Committee of Whole meets on March 18 in an effort to pass a streamlined budget bill this week. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

The Arizona House is meeting now to discuss a series of bills including HB2902, the K-12 education budget reconciliation bill for the 2020-2021 school year and HB2903, the higher education budget reconciliation bills for 2020-2021.

When SCR 1025 was put up for a vote, a number of Legislators said it was an unnecessary distraction from voting on critical budget bills.

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Rep. Athena Salman addresses Representatives during the Third Reading on March 18, 2020. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television.

“This is a waste of our time, and not part of this critical day’s work,” said Rep. Athena Salman.

Rep. Charlene Fernandez reminded legislators that they are in violation of CDC recommendations not to be in groups of 10 and putting people’s health at risk and should not be voting on legislation that is not critical at this point.

The bill was later approved by the House.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now COW-2-1024x454
Arizona Legislators meet on March 18 in an effort to pass some bills and a streamlined budget bill this week in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus. Photo courtesy Arizona Capitol Television

Then Representatives brought SB1399 , which includes reviser’s technical corrections for 2020 up for a vote.

“I think it’s incredibly irresponsible to vote on bills without a briefing,” said Rep. Mitzi Epstein.

Then she asked to break the meeting, take time to look at the bills dropped, caucus them and let the public speak up and be heard.

“I do not see any reason to be in this room at all today,” Epstein said. “We could be at home consulting with staff and revising bills.”

After that the Majority Leader said the idea was to vote on a couple noncontroversial bills, then take home the budget bills to read, consult on and discuss them tomorrow morning in session, and representatives thanked him for that explanation.

Representatives later approved the bill.

Then Representatives voted on House Bill 2684, an emergency measure to allow underperforming districts to develop a crisis management team.

After Rep. Grantham said there was a low viral infection rate right now and he didn’t think there was much risk from COVID-19, Rep. Kelli Butler said she and many others were concerned that they shouldn’t be here exposing each other and their staff to the risk of spreading the virus.

Rep. Regina Cobb thanked representatives for moving forward on the bill she had been working on for five years, and she said it would help many students in struggling schools.

Representatives then approved the bill.

The House Speaker Rusty Bowers recessed the House until 10 a.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Meanwhile, schools across Arizona are finding ways to provide food for their students and are gearing up for online or distance learning in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

Gov. Doug Ducey is asking Arizonans to continue to follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on ways to limit the spread of COVID-19.

There are 27 cases of COVID-19 in Arizona as of Wednesday morning, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website, with 11 in Maricopa County, 8 in Pinal County, 5 in Pima County, 2 in Navajo County and 1 in Graham County. 

Two hundred sixty five people have been tested, 02 tests are still awaiting results, and 148 tests came back negative for COVID-19. 

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that there are 7,038 cases of COVID-19 nationwide and 97 deaths from the disease, up from 4,226 cases and 75 deaths a day earlier, according to a KTAR 92.3 FM story.

With the virus’ impact on the U.S. economy many people have had their hours cut at work, lost their jobs or are fearful of what will happen next.

So do what you can to help people through this tough time and provide support in any way you can.

March 17

During a webinar hosted by Arizona School Boards Association for school leaders, Arizona Department of Education’s Chief of Staff Claudio Coria thanked school districts for all they are doing to get current information to students and their families during the school closure due to Coronavirus COVID-19.

To listen to the webinar click here

The information below is from the webinar.

To view the webinar presentation click here

The charts below are from the webinar.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Where-to-get-updates-1024x524
Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Cave-Creek-Art-Teacher-and-Students
A teacher at Black Mountain Elementary School works with students during class September 2019. Photo by Lisa Irish/ AZEdNews

“We, at this time of uncertainty and complexity, our students are really feeling it, we’re encouraging you to provide educational opportunities online as appropriate,” Coria said.

Coria also thanked schools for continuing to provide meals and other essential services for students.

“It’s important that staff and teachers continue to get paid for this work that they are doing during this time of closure,” Coria said.

Arizona Dept. of Education is also providing guidance to districts and schools that staff should not have to use their personal leave during this time of school closure.

Callie Kozlak, associate superintendent for policy and government relations with Arizona Department of Education, said they recognize that funding is the most critical issues as schools remain closed and they are working with the Governor and legislature to develop legislation to ensure that.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Continuity-of-Pay-1024x705

“We have a lot of questions around funding during this closure,” Coria said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Funding-considerations-1024x532

There will be no impact in funding for schools that have met their 100th day of instruction, Coria said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Days-of-Instruction-Requirement-1024x661
180 to 200 days of instruction requirement information Courtesy of Arizona Department of Education

Many districts are prioritizing resources and laptops so that seniors can do work to earn the necessary credits to graduate, Coria said.

If the closure goes beyond the current two weeks, then the Arizona Dept. of Education will come back with further recommendations, Coria said.

ADE has talked with testing vendors to extend schools testing windows and there’s flexibility there, Coria said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Statewide-Testing-1024x710

The Arizona Dept. of Education also had guidance for schools that are testing sites for SAT, ACT and other student assessments.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Other-assessments-1024x678

ADE is also aware of the concern around COVID-19 and how that will affect students mental health when they return to school classes, Coria said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now State-accountability-1024x642

For many special education students there are specific needs to be met in their IEP or 504 and the Arizona Department of Education is prepared to help support schools and teachers in these areas, Coria said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Special-Ed-concerns-1024x578

“If we provide educational opportunities while schools are closed it is important we provide those opportunities for students with special education needs also,” Coria said.

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ADE is taking steps to ensure that schools can provide food and nutrition services to students through provisions of the federal Summer Meal Program, Coria said.

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“We want our children to be fed in this very difficult time,” Coria said.

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“We have a commitment to be as flexible as possible with district and charter leaders in this unprecedented time,” Coria said.

“We are in close contact with federal folks who coordinate different programs and as we get information from them we are updating our information to get it out to our schools,” Kozlak said.

Kozlak said they are working on session law to ensure that teachers are not required to work past the end of the contract year and current school calendar year.

Arizona School Boards Association, Arizona Association of School Business Officials, and ADE is working with legislators to get statewide legislative consistency on these issues, said Chris Kotterman, director of governmental relations for Arizona School Boards Association.

Kozlak said that the Arizona Dept. of Education and the Governor are committed to announcing by March 22 if the COVID-19 school closure will go beyond the current March 27th date.

In addition, the COVID-19 update link on the Arizona Dept. of Education website will be updated with new information each day, said Ritchie Taylor, communications director for the Arizona Dept. of Education.

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Updated March 16:

The Arizona Department of Education, education advocates, county superintendents of schools and school leaders met Monday afternoon to discuss draft policy legislation to help Arizona schools during this closure in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

As of 9 a.m. Monday, Arizona has 18 confirmed COVID-19 cases, said Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Service during a press conference this afternoon.

“We have community spread of COVID-19, and we expect more cases,” said Dr. Christ said.

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now Gov-Ducey-at-press-briefing-3-16-20-300x170

Gov. Doug Ducey at COVID-19 press conference March 16, 2020. Photo courtesy

LabCorp, Sonora Quest and several other private labs can now test for COVID-19 when the test is ordered by a doctor, Dr. Christ said.

“What we’ve seen is that Arizonans have acted responsibly through this,” Gov. Doug Ducey said.

Gov. Doug Ducey encouraged people to avoid crowds, groups of 10 or more people, and continue to use social distancing to reduce the spread of COVID 19.

“I want to reassure Arizonans that we’re going to get through this and get through this together,” Gov. Ducey said.

Meanwhile, the Arizona Legislature may adjourn the session soon as a public health precaution, with House Speaker Rusty Bowers saying he hoped to pass a few noncontroversial bills and a basic budget to continue funding for state agencies and services after some legislators said they would not attend sessions and committee meetings were canceled this afternoon, according to an Arizona Republic article.

Proposed draft legislation

The proposed draft legislation would also include federal waivers the Arizona Department of Education can apply for in order to maintain federal funding.

“Your voice is critical in making decisions going forward,” said Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

One of the main considerations is if legislation with an emergency clause to waive the requirement for the minimum number of instructional days and hours for schools approved to operate on 180-day or 200-day models can be enacted this session.

The Arizona Dept. of Education will continue to provide non-regulatory guidance and tools for using remote learning or other relevant methods to ensure students still have access to critical academic content and services.

This is important, because school budgets only pay staff for a limited number of instructional days. If schools are required to make up days after an indefinite amount of time, they will essentially run out of money to pay for staff time and other indirect costs. Waiving the requirement would let schools pay staff and services for the number of days budgeted, even if the school is closed for a portion of those days. Right now, on average, Arizona public schools are at 135 instructional days.

House Education Committee Chair Rep. Michelle Udall who attended suggested allowing attendance to be changed to include checking in online. Cochise County Supt. of Schools Jacqui Clay asked if superintendents could contact employees and ask them to work online from home.

Pima County, which has a 200-day calendar, asked to have the same requirements as schools with a 180-day calendar. Chuck Essigs with AASBO said he liked that idea.

Claudio Coria with the Arizona Department of Education said they were looking at what the proposed draft legislation could do in the short-term, two-week closure of schools going on now, as well as what it could do in the long-term if schools end up being closed until the traditional end of the school year.

Senate Education Committee Chair Sen. Sylvia Allen said she was concerned that some smaller schools could continue some sort of instruction to help children, especially in rural communities, maintain learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was a very difficult decision to make, “but at this point we needed consistency in these unprecedented times,” Hoffman said.

Also, we want to make sure this doesn’t negatively impact students who do not have the resources at home to do online learning, Hoffman said.

The proposed policy legislation would also require schools to pay both salaried and hourly staff in the event of a school closure, budget money to pay for students receiving special education services at facilities outside of the school district, and state that staff must not be required to use personal/sick leave during school closures.

Another attendee said they have teachers attending training, working online and were concerned about pay, leave, and more.

“I think from a legislative component we want to provide flexibility to the districts,” said Coria, asking for attendees feedback.

“We want to provide as much flexibility to schools while your kids aren’t there,” said Callie Kozlak, noting they wanted to provide guidance to schools as well.

“One of the things we’d like to see in the proposed language is a hold harmless clause,” said one attendee.

The group also discussed applying for waivers from the U.S. Department of education, specifically for food services and testing.

The U.S. Depy. of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service is letting schools that qualify for the Summer Food Service Program[to serve reimbursable meals in non-congregate settings during periods of school closure, which will let sponsors provide meals to be taken and consumed offsite, to allow for social distancing.

Arizona currently has a waiver in place and is seeking another, said Melissa Connor with ADE Food services.

“We put out guidance last night on how to operate a summer food program and we are committed to adding more,” Connor said.

“It’s worth noting that any child under 18 qualifies for these meals,” Coria said.

Also, the proposed legislation is seeking an extension of the state testing window. The Arizona Department of Education will consider all options for applying for a federal waiver on testing once the extent and length of time necessary for school closures due to COVID-19 is known.

“We’re looking at other issues we may next to tackle over the next several weeks,” Kozlak said.

“I think that if we go longer than three to four weeks, that we consider a cessation of testing this year,” one attendee said.

Schools can make a case for appeals now, but I think the priority is the safety and well-being of the students and staff right now, another attendee said.

“Testing is an issue, but the consequences of the tests are what is going to make an impact on districts,” said Chris Kotterman with ASBA.

“Our testing day is next Tuesday through Thursday, so we already missed it,” another attendee said.

“What are we going to test? These kids are more stressed than they have ever been. These teachers are more stressed than they have ever been,” said Joe Thomas of Arizona Education Association. “I think the earlier we take this off the table the better it is for everyone.”

Depending on how long schools are closed to reduce the spread and impact of COVID-19, the Arizona Dept. of Education and other AZ governing bodies may consider:

  • Canceling statewide assessments and holding schools harmless on letter grades for SY2019-2020 (Not withstanding A.R.S. 15-741, 15-241)
  • Suspend Move On When Reading and any other grade level promotion requirements (Not withstanding A.R.S. 15-701)
  • Flexibility for graduation requirements
  • Services for children with special needs, including those utilizing private facilities within and outside of Arizona.
  • Remote learning best practices, statewide options, and professional development.  
  • Additional funding to support or reimburse services provided by schools to communities and families facing extenuating circumstances.

When Arizona schools re-open, “we’re going to be asking a lot of our people coming back and hitting the ground hard,” Thomas said.

“I think we have to come out of this meeting with an idea of what the pay issue means for certified and classified staff,” Hoffman said. “That guidance is really important now for all districts and charters.”

“We need to make sure we’re not disrupting pay,” Hoffman said.

“If I’m a school and I’m going to pay my staff, I need to know you’re not going to extend the school year so I run out of money,” Kotterman said.

“Our recommendation would be that we don’t have makeup days, because if this is pushed two weeks into the summer it’s when teachers are doing training, families are planning time together,” Hoffman said.

Rep. Michelle Udall asked, “If we’re not actually in school, but we’re providing instruction to students and we find work for hourly employees to do so we’re not violating the work clause, is there enough work to do?”

“For Pima County, I would say yes,” said Dustin Williams, Pima County superintendent of schools.

But another attendee said no, they could not unless their staff were assigned to work from home and were working the entire eight hours a day.

We have a combination of staff doing many duties, including making sure students get meals, said Dr. Lupita Hightower, superintendent of Tolleson Elementary.

Cochise County Supt. Jacqui Clay said they have bus drivers taking learning packets teachers created to students, hourly employees grading packets, and bus drivers are delivering food to students.

“I believe that if we start being very creative we will find ways to improve education while the students are at home,” Clay said.

“Please don’t discount what Dustin has said, we have found things for our employees to do, and it’s not busywork,” Clay said.

“What do you need at the state level, so you can ensure high quality services from your staff,” Kozlak said.

A special education teacher was concerned she was the only teacher required to go out and work with students while school was closed, when other teachers created work packets that they sent home, one attendee said.

“The more communication you have with parents about how you go about that instruction is important,” another attendee said.

Thomas encouraged leaders to include teachers in the discussion of creative ways to meet students needs during this school closure.

“We’re getting a lot of questions about childcare,” Hoffman said, noting that guidance about childcare on school sites will go out later today.

March 15, 2020:

Gov. Doug Ducey and Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced Sunday a statewide closure of Arizona schools from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 27, 2020 to halt the spread of Coronavirus.

Ducey and Hoffman will work with education and public health officials to re-assess the need for school closures and provide further guidance through March 27.

To read their announcement click here

On Sunday, the Arizona Education Asociation called for students to stay home from school until a detailed paln ensures students return to safe and healthy classrooms, according to a 12 News story.

On Monday morning, Arizona Department of Health Services said there are 18 cases of COVID-19 now in Arizona – 8 cases in Maricopa County, 5 in Pinal County, 4 in Pima County and one in Graham County, according to 12 News.

Earlier in the day, more than 33 school districts in the Phoenix metropolitan area and across Arizona have decided to close or extend spring break to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Prescott Unified, Humboldt Schools in Prescott Valley, Dysart Unified, Cave Creek Unified, Laveen and Mesa Public schools, the state’s largest district, are among the schools that announced closures in the last 24 hours.

Now, the Arizona Legislature is considering shutting down the session over COVID-19 concerns.

On March 12, the Arizona Department of Health Services and the Arizona Department of Education recommended that schools remain open, but some schools have decided to close.

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said during a conference call with school superintendents statewide Thursday afternoon that she is recommending schools remain open for the time being and she’s not recommending canceling athletic events either, according to an Associated Press story

Listen to the COVID-19 Briefing Call for Arizona Schools by clicking here

Later Thursday afternoon, the Alhambra Elementary School District announced it will close all of our schools as of Monday, March 16, until further notice in an effort to stop the spread of COVID. At that time, Alhambra Elementary School District said it has no known cases of the Coronavirus with students or staff, and this decision is simply a precaution to ensure the health and well-being of all students and employees. 

Alhambra School District said it wanted to provide as much time as possible for parents to find childcare arrangements and to take care of their families at home.

Since then, Prescott Unified, Humboldt Schools, Mesa Schools, Cave Creek Unified, Cartwright, Isaac, Kyrene, Madison, Osborn, Roosevelt, Tempe Elementary, Tempe Union, Phoenix Union, Litchfield, Gilbert, Littleton, Tolleson Union, Scottsdale, Balsz, Agua Fria Union, Pendergast, Wilson, Phoenix Elementary, Avondale Elementary, J.O. Combs, and Fowler school districts also announced that they will close as well.

American Leadership Academy, Great Hearts Academy, Xavier College Prepatory, Brophy College Prepatory, Noah Webster Charter Schools, and St. Francis Xavier have also closed.

Peoria Unified is holding a special meeting on Monday, March 16 to discuss matters related to COVID-19 and it’s potential impact on the district.

Santa Cruz Valley Unified No.35 extended Spring Break to March 20.

The Arizona School Boards Association has compiled a webpage with resources for schools about COVID-19 as well.

Earlier updates:

As schools throughout Arizona and the nation deal with Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the concerns associated with it, here are some state and national resources you can use to keep yourself informed.

U.S. President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency on Friday, March 13, 2020 due to the spread of COVID-19, which make nearly $50 billion available for state and local governments to respond.

President Trump also gave details of a public/private partnership that will provide an online portal to screen people seeking to be tested for COVID-19 and directing them to drive-thru testing in some areas, according to The Associated Press.

Many Arizona schools have taken part in recent webinars by the Arizona Department of Health Services about COVID-19, and shared prevention measures they’re taking during this pandemic with students and their families through emails, phone calls and on their websites.

For example, Dysart Unified School District in Surprise called parents Thursday morning to let them know that they have plans in place for various actions that may be required in response to the COVID-19 and “will take immediate action as needed to ensure the safety of our students and staff.”

Dysart Unified sent out an email Thursday afternoon that the district has suspended all high school and middle school athletic games, arts performances and assemblies through March 27th to reduce social interactions, all field trips are suspended until further notice and volunteers and visitors will not be allowed beyond the office. In addition, buses are being sanitized between runs, and all frequently touched objects and surfaces are being sanitized on a daily basis. Teachers will use strategies to minimize students touch and interactions and encourage hand washing and sanitizing and sick students and staff will be sent home.

More than 127,800 people have been infected with COVID-19 around the world as of March 12, 2020, and 4,718 people around the world have died after contracting the disease, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. 

Coronavirus response: COVID-19 cases rise to 665; see what schools are doing now COVID-19-image-from-AZ-DHS
Image of Coronavirus courtesy of Arizona Department of Health Services

In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey declared a health state of emergency March 11 so the state can access additional federal funding to help fight COVID-19, according to a Capitol Media Services story.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez also declared a state of emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, and he noted that there were no confirmed cases yet in the Navajo Nation, which includes parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, according to an Associated Press story.

Arizona currently has 9 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and is waiting on the results of at least 24 other tests, according to an article in The Arizona Republic.

Experts say that when talking with children about COVID-19, it’s important to be calm and honest about what is and isn’t known, according to an Associated Press article.

Last week, a Queen Creek student at a charter school in Pinal County was found to have a confirmed COVID-19 case.

Thursdaymorning, Pima Unified School District in southeastern Arizona will be closed following reports that some Pima Elementary School students may have been exposed to an unknown illness, according to a story in The Arizona Republic.

ASU and U of A also announced yesterday that they would move from in-person classes to online instruction for the next two weeks wherever possible due to concerns about COVID-19, according to an article in The Arizona Republic. This afternoon, Northern Arizona University announced that it is temporarily moving classes online as well.

President Donald Trump announced Wednesday night that flights from 26 European countries would be canceled for the next 30 days in a bid to halt transmission of COVID-19, according to a Reuters story.  

The NBA canceled the rest of the season after a player tested positive for COVID-19, according to a CNN story. The National Hockey League paused the 2019-2020 season with tonight’s games, and Major League Baseball canceled the remainder of Spring Training and postponed the season for at least two weeks, according to ESPN.

Disneyland and California Adventure also announced Thursday afternoon that they will close from March 14 through the end of the month to limit COVID-19 transmission, according to an ABC 15 Arizona story.

With more information coming in each hour, keep up with the latest information by taking a look at some of these trusted resources.


U.S. Centers for Disease Control: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)


Arizona Department of Health Services Coronavirus Home:

Arizona Department of Education:

National Headlines:

The Associated Press: Virus Outbreak:

Arizona Headlines:

azfamily: 33 Phoenix-area school districts closing schools due to coronavirus

The Arizona Republic: Here’s how some Arizona schools are deep cleaning over spring break

Arizona Daily Sun: Coronavirus threats cause closures

The Arizona Republic: Tracking college closures: U.S. colleges closing, going online due to coronavirus

Arizona Daily Sun: Virus worries lead Tucson science fair to limit face-to-face participation

Phoenix New Times: For Now, Don’t Expect Arizona to Close Schools Because of the Coronavirus

ABC 15 Arizona: How are schools preparing for coronavirus spread in Arizona?

The Arizona Republic: Arizona Tennis Classic canceled after ATP tour suspends events because of coronavirus concerns

The Arizona Republic: Arizona jails, prisons make preparations to prevent spread of coronavirus

Other National Headlines

The Associated Press: Schools scramble to feed students after coronavirus closures

Chalkbeat: Schools that go ‘remote’ for coronavirus must keep serving students with disabilities. Can any really do it?

CNN: Confusion over the availability and criteria for coronavirus testing is leaving sick people wondering if they’re infected

Education Week: How Superintendents Decide to Shut Down Schools

Education Week: DeVos Issues Coronavirus Guidance to Schools on Testing, Privacy, Students With Disabilities

The Associated Press: Talking to kids about virus? Experts say be calm and honest

Chalkbeat: Coronavirus and Schools. Here’s what you need to know today

National Public Radio: Should Schools Close To Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus?

Civil Eats: Coronavirus is Closing Schools. Here’s What it Means for Millions of Kids Who Rely on School Meals.

Bangor Daily News: Spike in bullying reported at schools amid coronavirus fears

Chalkbeat: Coronavirus prompts Newark and districts across the U.S. to reconsider perfect attendance goals

Politico: Coronavirus quarantines could rob poor, rural students of access to education

Chalkbeat: Coronavirus highlights the many roles school nurses play — and the challenges of going without them

National Public Radio: When Should Schools Close For Coronavirus?

U.S. News & World Reports: Coronavirus Takes Toll on K-12 and Higher Education

National Public Radio: Schools And Businesses Grapple With How To Cope With Coronavirus

National Public Radio: As Schools Close Due To Coronavirus, Nearly 300 Million Kids Aren’t In Class