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

Gov. Doug Ducey Talks About The Delay Of In-person Classes Due To COVID-19 During A News Conference June 29, 2020. Photo Courtesy Of Arizona Dept. Of Health Services

Gov. Doug Ducey delayed the re-opening of schools’ in-person classes until August 17 due to the increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases during a news conference this afternoon.

“We also want to bring as much certainty as possible for Arizona schools. Of course, our objective is to educate our kids as best as possible in the safest environment,” Gov. Ducey said.

Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19 6-29-Guidance-for-Schools
Gov. Doug Ducey talks about the delay of in-person classes due to COVID-19 during a news conference June 29, 2020. Photo courtesy of Arizona Dept. of Health Services

“It is an unfortunate, but necessary decision to delay students’ return to their classrooms,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. “But with Arizona’s COVID cases hitting new highs every week, it is clearly not yet safe for students and teachers to return to school facilities.”

“We’ll continuously re-evaluate this target date working closely with Supt. Hoffman with the objective to educate our children safely and successfully,” Gov. Ducey said.

Distance learning and in-person classes

Distance learning and online instruction could be provided before in-person classes start, said Dr. Chuck Essigs, director of governmental relations for the Arizona Association of School Business Officials.

“We have been told that this will allow districts to pay employees and would allow district calendars to start as scheduled and not require extra days to be added to the calendar,” Essigs said.

The Executive Order would allow schools to start distance learning on their regularly scheduled start date if they submit a distance learning plan to the Arizona Dept. of Education, no later than the start date of their distance learning or Aug. 14, 2020, whichever is earlier.

Click here to read the Governor’s Executive Order Protecting Public Health for Students and Teachers.

“Schools now have the financial flexibility to offer distance learning per their regular academic calendars, and it is my hope that they will take this opportunity to the best of their ability. Arizona’s students simply cannot afford to stop learning this year,” Supt. Hoffman said.

Students participating in distance learning will be considered as Arizona Online Instruction program students for purposes of school funding calculations, according to the Executive Order.

But that provision nullifies the funding flexibility for schools provided in Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order last week, said Dr. Jesse Welsh, superintendent of Paradise Valley Unified School District in a letter to students’ families.

“Like you, we have many questions related to this order and how it impacts our plans for reopening and learning options,” Dr. Welsh said “We will continue to prepare for the upcoming school year and keep you updated”

Click here for ASBA’s Governmental Relations Analysis of Executive Order Delays the Physical Opening of Schools

The Executive Order also allows schools to delay benchmark testing until the first six weeks after in-person classes start.

Arizona Dept. of Health Services: COVID-19 News Conference June 29, 2020

In addition, the Arizona Dept. of Education will analyze if there is a need to waive the number of school days required, the impact of such a waiver, and submit the analysis by Aug. 31, 2020 to the Governor, Arizona Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Arizona State Senate and the State Board of Education.

Phoenix Union High School District Supt. Dr. Chad Gestson said in a letter to students’ families that the district plans to start Aug. 3 with remote learning, because “the longer we delay teaching the wider the achievement gap gets.”

Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19 Dr.-Chad-Gestson-2
Phoenix Union High School District Supt. Dr. Chad Gestson. Photo courtesy Phoenix Union High School District

“Our community relies upon our services – food, counseling, social work to name a few. The longer we delay the start of the year, the longer we delay these vital services,” Dr. Gestson said.

Also, Dr. Gestson noted that if they delay the first day of school by two weeks, that means delaying pay for all the district’s 9-month employees.

“We do not believe that it is in the best interest of our staff – and their families – to delay their first paycheck of the year,” Dr. Gestson said.

Cartwright School District’s letter to families says classes will start with distance learning on Aug. 3, after Aug. 17 parents can choose in-person classes or distance learning, and the district will move to a four-day school week so that deep cleaning can be done at each campus on Fridays.

Mesa Public School District said the Governing Board and district leadership are discussing the details of the executive order and how it may impact the start of the school year and in-person classes.

“Thank you to our families and staff who have shared their learning model preferences,” said the letter to families from Interim Supt. Dr. Pete Lesar and Incoming Supt. Dr. Andi Fourlis. “With this new information from the Governor, we feel it is best that we pause our parent, teacher and employee surveys until we can provide more details.”

Cave Creek Unified School District Supt. Dr. Debbi Burdick said in a letter to parents, “At this time, we are still considering starting on August 5th with online school to begin learning for our students. As we get more information, we will continue to update you. Thank you for understanding as we try to digest and figure out this latest news and

Impact on school athletics and actitivies

In response to the Executive Order delaying the start of in-person classes, the Arizona Interscholastic Association has delayed the start of all school-related activities and athletics.

Schools with child care programs shall continue to offer those programs until the start of in-person classes, the Executive Order states.

“We’ll continue to communicate along the way and continue programs for kids in need,” Gov. Ducey said.

“I urge all Arizonans to stay home, practice social distancing, and wear a mask when in public,” Supt. Hoffman said. “Our students and school staff are depending on you.”

Gov. pauses re-opening of businesses

In addition, the re-opening of Arizona’s economy remains on pause due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ducey said Monday.

Confirmed COVID-19 cases in Arizona rose to 74,533 today from 73,908 yesterday, and 1,588 have died from the virus, said the Arizona Department of Health Services.

In Maricopa County, there are 45,178 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 7,568 in Pima County, 5,882 in Yuma County, 3,570 in Navajo County, 3,382 in Pinal County, 2,309 in Apache County, 1,850 in Coconino County, 1,717 in Santa Cruz County, 1,028 in Mohave County, 755 in Yavapai County, 580 in Cochise County, 332 in La Paz County, 271 in Gila County, 92 in Graham County and 18 in Greenlee County.

Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19 6-29-Summary-738x1024

“We have been preparing in March, April and May for what is upon us now, and we are prepared,” Gov. Ducey said.

“It’s time for us to put on a full court press,”said Gov. Ducey, and he reminded people the number of cases will increase next week, but over time as people continue to take precautions to reduce infection the number of COVID-cases will decrease.

“The best way you can do this is to wear a mask,” Gov. Ducey said.

“We’re not going back to normal anytime soon,” Gov. Ducey said.

Order limits gatherings, closes gyms, bars & more

“The actions we’re going to take today are to minimize gatherings and large congregations,” Gov. Ducey said.

Click here to read Gov. Ducey’s Executive Order Pausing of Arizona’s Re-opening: Slowing the Spread of COVID-19.

Gov. Ducey announced a new Executive Order today to pause the operations of bars, gyms, movie theaters, waterparks and tubing starting today at 8 p.m. for the next month with a targeted re-opening date in 30 days.

“In order to re-open these establishments will have to address and adhere to public health regulations and post it for the public to see,” Gov. Ducey said. “Enforcement will be led by local public health officials and local authorities.”

Also, the Executive Order limits mass gatherings.

Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19 6-29-Guidance-for-pools

“We’re going to prohibit indoor and outdoor public events or gatherings of more than 50 or more (people,)” Gov. Ducey said.

“There is also new guidance for pools with the focus on breaking up large gatherings,” Gov. Ducey said. “This prohibits groups of larger than 10 from congregating together near the pool.”

Video: Gov. delays in-person classes to Aug. 17 due to rise in COVID-19 6-29-Gatherings-info

During his Thursday news conference, Gov. Ducey urged people to stay home, wear masks and eliminate unnecessary trips away from home saying, “The rate of the spread of this virus in unacceptable and it’s time for us to step up our actions and personal responsibility in response to this virus.”