Daily schools update: FDA approves Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine - AZEdNews
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Daily schools update: FDA approves Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine

Free Drive-thru COVID-19 Testing For All Mesa Public Schools Students, Families, Staff And Community Members Is Available 24 Hours A Day, Seven Days A Week At Mesa Community College, 1833 W. Southern Avenue In Mesa, Shown Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Save Your Spot And Make An Appointment To Be Tested. [Tim Hacker/ Mesa Public Schools]

For updates going forward click here

Update Aug. 23, 2021: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 988,714 today and 18,602 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

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


Dysart Unified School District celebrates Shadow Ridge High School‘s softball coaching staff for their achievements.

Apache Elementary kindergarteners show off learning their colors.

Learn more about the impact of the A+ School of Excellence Award, courtesy of Arizona Educational Foundation.

See how a Kyrene student is helping his teacher.

Tucson Unified School District connects students with opportunities to learn about colleges and universities from around the country.

Update Aug. 20, 2021: Phoenix Union High School District will continue to prioritize students’ health and safety by following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control even if that means maintaining its mask mandate after the Sept. 29 date that the Arizona law prohibiting school mask mandates goes into effect, said Supt. Dr. Chad Gestson.

Recent COVID-19 case numbers reflect schools concerns with the youngest Arizonans showing the largest growth in infection, according to an ABC 15 analysis of Arizona Dept. of Health Services data. This increase is concerning because this age group has had the lowest rate since reporting began, but not surprising with children under 12 still not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine yet.

Here’s what one family is doing after one of their children was exposed to a classmate who tested positive for COVID-19 and asked to quarantine.

Yesterday, the governing boards of both Chandler and Higley Unified School Districts voted to keep masks optional but strongly suggested for students and staff.

Here’s a snapshot of what some school districts nationwide are doing around masks for students and staff, courtesy of the Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 979,580 today up from yesterday’s 976,471 and 18,561 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 618,457 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 124,453 in Pima County, 60,594 in Pinal County, 38,508 in Yuma County, 27,290 in Mohave County, 22,555 in Yavapai County, 19,390 in Coconino County, 17,992 in Navajo County, 12,774 in Cochise County, 12,172 in Apache County, 8,373 in Santa Cruz County, 7,789 in Gila County, 5,905 in Graham County, 2,652 in La Paz County and 675 in Greenlee County.

Take a look at the dessert students in the Higley Transition & Access Program made.

Looking for a fun way to relax with your kids? Take a look at these picture books to enjoy together.

Chandler Unified’s Interim Superintendent presents to the local Chamber of Commerce.

If you’re interested in how film reflects culture, take a look at this Scottsdale Community College class offering.

Crane School District thanks everyone building a race track for students.

Wondering what the difference is between the child tax credit and the childcare tax credit? Take a look at this.

Student awarded scholarship after sharing her story.

Families with greater susceptibility to COVID-19 say they need remote learning options.

Cartwright School District students get ready for recess.

A University of Arizona program is honored for its recruitment and retention of woman and underrepresented students in STEM fields.

Learn more about strategies and lessons learned for school-based COVID-19 vaccination events through this webinar hosted by Rural Schools Collaboration.

Update Aug. 19, 2021: The Arizona Supreme Court ruled 6-1 today in the Prop. 208 lawsuit that voters can raise taxes through a ballot measure with a simple majority of the vote.

The court ruling said it was too early to tell if the Invest in Ed Initiative would raise so much money that it could exceed a constitutional limit on education spending and sent that issue back to a lower court to decide.

The first part of the ruling that ballot measures can raise taxes with a simple majority supports education proponents who worked to get the tax measure on the ballot.

Click here to read the Arizona Supreme Court ruling

But, Chief Justice Robert M. Brutinel wrote in the majority opinion of the court that funds generated from Prop. 208 are not grants.

“We hold that the direct funding provision does not fall within the constitutional definition of grants in article 9, section 21 of the Arizona Constitution, and Prop. 208 is therefore unconstitutional to the extent it mandates expending tax revenues in violation of the Education Expenditure Clause,” Justice Brutinel wrote.

That means all the money raised by the measure is subject to the constitutional aggregate limit on state education funding and that is major blow to education proponents. The constitutional aggregate limit on education funding was passed in 1980 and limits the overall amount of spending on education – with a few exemptions – to population growth and inflation.

Arizona voters approved Prop. 208, also known as the Invest in Education Act Initiative, by 51.75 percent in the November 2020 general election. Prop. 208  imposes a 3.5% individual income tax surcharge on taxable annual income above $250,000 per individual and $500,000 per couple.

Based on Arizona Department of Revenue models, Prop. 208 would generate $940 million annually for teachers, counselors, therapists, support staff, vocational education and other critical services, said David Lujan, director of The Arizona Center for Economic Progress, who helped draft the initiative.

Groups that put Prop. 208 on the ballot are collecting signatures on petitions now to put a measure on the ballot to repeal the flat tax and the tax law changes the Arizona Legislature approved in June and Gov. Doug Ducey signed that would reduce the amount Prop. 208 would generate for education by 45 percent.

Funds generated by Prop. 208 would be dispersed as grants to school districts and charter schools in proportion to the average daily membership in the prior fiscal year as follows:

  • 50% for hiring and increasing compensation for teachers and classroom support personnel
  • 25% for hiring and increasing compensation for student support services personnel
  • 10% for providing mentoring and retention programs for new classroom teachers to increase retention
  • 12% to the Career Training and Workforce Fund
  • 3% to Arizona Teachers Academy fund

Business interests tried unsuccessfully to keep Prop. 208 from getting on the ballot then filed a lawsuit after it was approved, and appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Gov. Doug Ducey released a statement on the court ruling.

Arizona Senate President Karen Fann also released a statement on the court ruling.

Related AZEdNews articles:
Court ruling on the Prop. 208 Invest In Ed lawsuit
Judge rejects two claims in Prop. 208 lawsuit

School elections pass rate is lower than in past, but results are mixed
Questions about Prop. 208, school bond, override elections? Find answers here
Court ruling impacts Invest in Ed, Save Our Schools initiatives qualifying for ballot
New Invest in Ed initiative announced for 2020 ballot
Education advocates’ budget priorities for legislative session
Ruling removes Invest in Ed proposition from ballot

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 976,471 today up from yesterday’s 972,925  and 18,508 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 616,348 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 124,237 in Pima County, 60,359 in Pinal County, 38,403 in Yuma County, 27,207 in Mohave County, 22,463 in Yavapai County, 19,354 in Coconino County, 17,913 in Navajo County, 12,744 in Cochise County, 12,141 in Apache County, 8,369 in Santa Cruz County, 7,745 in Gila County, 5,885 in Graham County, 2,641 in La Paz County and 662 in Greenlee County.

Tucson Unified School District‘s Collier Elementary students planted seeds in the school garden this week.

The U.S. Dept of Education offers these ideas for helping students develop good study habits.

Try these brain breaks to help your students learn better.

Colorado River Union High School District’s Governing Board voted unanimously to prohibit all district employees — administrators, teachers and staff — from discussing vaccination status with their students and ordered all employees not to “encourage or discourage vaccines or masks with any students,” reports the Mohave Valley Daily News.

Arizona State University welcomed back students today to their campuses for the new school year.

Queen Creek Unified School District highlights opportunities for their students.

How inclusive is your school for LGBTQ+ students?

See how one high school football team is regrouping after missing last year’s season.

Maricopa Community Colleges share the opportunities for students in their Information Technology, Manufacturing and Nursing programs.

Cave Creek Unified School District partners with other local groups to build a stronger community.

Updated August 18, 2021: “The Governor’s gambit to deny American Rescue Plan funds to schools following CDC guidance not only puts students at risk—it violates the law as written by Congress,” said Rep. Greg Stanton, in response to Gov. Doug Ducey’s announcement of $163 million in grants to schools which remain open without mask mandates.

“These resources should – and must – be made available to all Arizona schools,” continued Stanton in an official statement on Twitter.

Stanton condemned the governor’s actions as “malfeasance that risks the health and lives of our children.”

US officials announced today that booster shots of the COVID vaccine are recommended for all people 8 months after their second shot.

However, with those under the age of 12 still ineligible for the vaccine, school districts have pushed for mask mandates and other COVID safety guidelines to mitigate cases among children.

“We need serious leadership to get our students and schools through this pandemic, and that is woefully lacking from the 9th Floor,” said Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 972,925 today up from yesterday’s 970,523 and 18,504 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 613,962 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 123,836 in Pima County, 60,137 in Pinal County, 38,340 in Yuma County, 27,083 in Mohave County, 22,381 in Yavapai County, 19,298 in Coconino County, 17,856 in Navajo County, 12,705 in Cochise County, 12,096 in Apache County, 8,355 in Santa Cruz County, 7,716 in Gila County, 5,864 in Graham County, 2,640 in La Paz County and 656 in Greenlee County.

Chapparal Elementary students use new hats to show school spirit.

Tucson Unified AVID celebrates its Class of 2022.

Jacobson Elementary School 6th graders prepare to be school leaders.

Chandler-Gilbert Community College begins its Welcome Week for new students.

Over 16,000 students have moved onto Arizona State University’s campus for the 2021-2022 school year.

Join the University of Arizona for fun events welcoming students back to campus!

Deer Valley Unified School District open enrollment begins August 23.

Bret Tarver Leadership Academy students lead with a pledge of allegiance video.

C.W. Harris Elementary School students get creative with masks.

Check out the schedule for Ajo Unified School District’s volleyball and football games.

Updated 8/17/21: Gov. Doug Ducey released plans that would penalize school districts that mandate masks on campus to prevent the spread of COVID19 as a surge fueled by the delta variant impacts the communities they serve.

The Arizona Legislature included the prohibition of school mask mandates in the budget bills that Gov. Ducey signed earlier this summer.

On Aug. 12, education and children’s advocates and several individuals filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona in Arizona Superior Court in Maricopa County seeking declatory and injunctive relief against the prohibition of school mask mandates included in the budget bills.

This comes a day after Gov. Ducey issued an Executive Order that said any city, county, town or political subdivision that implements a vaccine mandate is in violation of state law and that action is punishable by a class 3 misdemeanor and that failing to provide earned sick leave to an employee recommended to stay home due to COVID-19 exposure violates the Fair Wages and Healthy Families Act.

Nogales Unified, Tempe Union, Kyrene School District, Littleton Elementary School District, and Tempe Elementary are among school districts that are requiring masks when students, staff and visitors are in buildings on campus to prevent the spread of COVID-19 after a court ruling yesterday where a judge said the law prohibiting school mask mandates does not go into effect until Sept. 29, 2021.

Scottsdale Unified School District has called for a special meeting today to discuss and consider whether to require masks on campus.

In response to these actions, Gov. Doug Ducey announced today an investment of $10 million in the COVID-19 Educational Recovery Benefit Program to provide “choice for parents who are facing financial and educational barriers due to unnecessary closures and school mandates and that are not in compliance with the provisions set forth in state law.”

The program will fund up to $7,000 per student for needs related to child care, transportation, online tutoring and tuition. Grant applications will be accepted starting Friday, August 20 on a first come, first serve basis for families with a total household income that is at or below 350% of the federal poverty level – which is $92,750 a year for a family of four in 2021.

Sen. Kirsten Engel said using federal COVID-relief funds to punish schools is unconscionable.

Gov. Ducey’s move comes just days after Republican state legislators sent a letter to him asking him to withhold federal funding from any school district not complying with the state law prohibiting school mask mandates, authorizing vouchers or Empowerment Scholarship Accounts to be offered to students in those districts, sending notices to students’ families in those districts that the state has banned mask mandates and letting them know about alternative school options and initiating legal action against school districts defying the state law.

At the time, the Governor’s office issued this statement, “We haven’t reviewed it yet, but we’ve been looking at ideas on this topic. The governor is anti-mandate, but pro-vaccine and pro-parental decision on masks and other measures. Parents should decide what’s best for their kids, and those are the kind of policies he will be supporting.”

Earlier today, Gov. Ducey said district and charter schools following all state laws and remaining open for in-person instruction will be eligible for $163 million in grant funding aimed at boosting resources for schools that received limited federal investment in previously enacted COVID-19 relief legislation.

The funds will be made available through the federal American Rescue Plan, will be distributed through the Education Plus Up Grant program to district and charter schools following all state laws and remaining open for in-person instruction as of August 27 and throughout the remainder of the school year, the news release from the Governor’s Office states.

Supt. of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said,”Today’s announcements demonstrate a remarkable ability to ignore any lessons gained from a year and a half of dealing with COVID-19.”

“The goal is in-person learning – something that cannot be achieved by forcing sick students to go back to school with their healthy peers,” Supt. Hoffman said.

On her personal Twitter feed, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said this puts parents of children too young or unable to be vaccinated yet in a tough spot.

In other news, U.S. health officials are expected to announce this week or next that a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended eight months after people received their second shot, The Associated Press reports.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Randall Warner on Monday denied the temporary restraining order in Phoenix Union High School District teacher Douglas Hester’s lawsuit against the district’s mask policy noting that the law is not effective until Sept. 29, and that the law’s retroactivity clause is not an emergency clause and cannot be used to avoid the two-thirds vote requirement to make a law effective immediately.

In addition, Judge Warner denied Phoenix Union High School District’s motion to dismiss the case and granted Hester leave to file an amended complaint within 45 days once the law becomes effective.

President Joe Biden offered praise yesterday for Arizona school districts doing the “right thing for the health and well-being of their students, teachers, and schools,” and singled out Phoenix Union High School District, which was the first to announce a school mask mandate the day before school started as cases of COVID-19 fueled by the delta variant surge in the communities it serves. Several other districts did the same soon afterwards.

A lawsuit was filed last week against the State of Arizona by education and children’s advocacy groups and several individuals over the law passed by the Arizona Legislature in the budget bills signed by Gov. Doug Ducey that prohibits school mask mandates.

Trained therapy dogs are available to help students at 24 of Mesa Public Schools‘ campuses.

Apache Elementary students earn points for their houses throughout the year with academic, behavioral and extracurricular success.

Apply now for the Earn to Learn Scholarship that provides an 8 to 1 savings match for students.

Help students learn what it takes to meet the wants and needs of a family with a free activity for grades 7 through 12. Find out more at Arizona Council on Economics Education.

John S. McCain Elementary School eighth-graders chatted with an Amazon engineer to learn more about what technical computer science positions are like in the workplace.

University of Arizona hosts a tribute to former men’s basketball head coach Lute Olson at 11:30 a.m. Sunday Sept. 12 at McKale Center and a free live stream is available on Facebook.

How to make books the center of your class, courtesy of Education Next.

Avondale Elementary School District says all their students are leaders.

If your children need vaccines, bring their immunization records, notices from the schools and an insurance card if you have one to this clinic hosted by Maricopa County Public Health.

What is differentiated instruction? Watch this edutopia video to find out.

Sahuarita Unified School District congratulates their Top 10 candidates for Teacher of the Year.

Families shouldn’t have to choose between their children or their work and that’s why childcare is so important, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says.

Take a look at the first day of school on Flagstaff Unified School District’s campuses.

Earlier coverage:

Aug. 3 to Aug. 16, 2021: Daily schools update: Arizona school mask mandates receive presidential praise

July 19 to Aug. 2, 2021Daily schools update: Teens struggle with mental health as school starts

June 20 to July 14, 2021Daily schools update: Arizona lawmakers ban mask requirements in schools

June 14 to June 17, 2021Tempe Union’s board approves comprehensive mental health policy

June 1 to June 11, 2021It’s time to get students enrolled in school for fall & ready for in-person classes

May 17 to May 28, 2021A year after George Floyd’s murder, a look at empathy, equity, what’s changed & what hasn’t

May 10 to May 14, 2021Students ready for graduation ceremonies

May 4 to May 6, 2021Amendment to bill would prohibit teachers from discussing controversial policy & social issues not essential to learning objectives

April 28 to May 3, 2021Thank a teacher during Teacher Appreciation Week for all they do for students

April 21 to April 27, 2021: 3 years after Red for Ed there’s much left to do

April 12 to April 20, 2021: How & why teachers discuss trial with students; Schools keep masks after Gov. rescinds mandate

March 29 to April 9, 2021Children, young teens may be eligible for COVID-19 vaccine before next school year

March 15 to March 26Masks are still required in all schools; Video: Dr. Christ’s news conference today

Feb. 24 to March 11, 2021: COVID-19 aid funds will help AZ students, families & schools

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 7, 2020Coronavirus response: Cases rise; AZ Day of Giving