Supt. Hoffman and health care leaders say mask up as schools return to in-person learning - AZEdNews
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Supt. Hoffman and health care leaders say mask up as schools return to in-person learning

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  • Morgan Dick   |   Arizona Department of Education

Supt. Of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman Talks About Efforts To Increase Behavioral Health Services For Arizona Students During A News Briefing Sept. 10, 2020 At Hamilton High School In Chandler. Photo Courtesy Of The Office Of The Arizona Governor

The public health crisis imposed by COVID-19 has stressed our health systems, public schools, and families in unprecedented ways. In the face of such challenges, Arizonans have come together to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask when in public and practicing physical distancing.

To ensure our hard-earned gains against the virus continue, we cannot let up on these mitigation strategies. Paramount to these efforts are continued use of face coverings when in public, which is why masking must continue to be a priority for every person and community in our state.

Wearing a mask in schools is mandated across Arizona under EO 2020-51 and is one of our most effective tools in preventing the spread of the virus.

“Our public schools play a critical role in the lives of Arizona’s children and families. But to keep moving in the right direction, we cannot let up our mitigation efforts,” said Superintendent Kathy Hoffman. “I urge municipal leaders to continue their masking efforts in their communities – and I urge leaders in areas without mask requirements to take action now. Our school communities are depending on continued steps to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our state.”

Banner Health, Arizona’s largest health care system, which has cared for nearly half of all COVID-19 patients in the state, agrees that masking must continue.

“We have begun to see a decline in COVID-19 cases in Arizona, and I firmly believe this can be attributed to good behaviors, such as masking, to help reduce the spread,” said Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer for Banner Health. “For this reason, Banner Health is strongly opposed to any decision or consideration to relax existing mask mandates. Evidence has shown that masking mandates have worked to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

Bessel added that even though COVID-19 cases appear to be decreasing, we must not let up and should continue following recommendations such as masking, social distancing and other protective measures to ensure we don’t reverse gains in slowing the spread.

“We have seen how requiring the use of a face mask directly helps to lower the number of COVID-19 cases in our state,” said Ann-Marie Alameddin, President and CEO of the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association. “Now is not the time to ease up on our efforts to stop this virus from spreading through our schools and back into our homes.” 

Arizona’s teachers and schools have gone above and beyond to continue educating our students over the past several months. As schools begin to reopen their doors to students, mitigation strategies are needed more than ever. Every Arizonan, no matter your role in your community, should continue to wear a mask, maintain physical distancing, practice good hygiene, and get a flu shot.

To ensure that every Arizonan can do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Arizona Department of Administration (ADOA) and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) expanded their #MaskUpAZ program to students and school staff. All Arizona students and school staff can order five washable, reusable cloth face masks today.