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- The order requires schools to return to in-person learning by March 15 or after spring break, according to the governor’s statement.
- The order notes that 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties are in phases where all schools are safe to open, including the two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.
- Students also have the option to continue participating in virtual learning if their parent or guardian chooses.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) on Wednesday issued an executive order requiring all public schools in the state to begin offering in-person learning by March 15 or after Spring Break.
The order notes that 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties are in phases where all schools are safe to open, including the two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.
“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,” Ducey said in a statement.
“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,” the governor said.
According to the statement, an exception will be made for middle and high schools in three counties that have a high COVID-19 transmission rate based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, which include Coconino, Yavapai and Pinal counties.
Students also have the option to continue participating in virtual learning if their parent or guardian chooses.
“CDC is clear that there is a safe pathway for all schools to open at any transmission level, and to stay open if they implement proper mitigation strategies,” Ducey said.
The CDC last month released guidance to states on safely reopening schools. Top recommendations for doing so include universal mask-wearing by students, staff and teachers, as well as social distancing. COVID-19 vaccination of teachers should be prioritized but should not be considered a condition of reopening classrooms, according to the agency.
The CDC breaks down transmission levels for communities into four levels, including low, moderate, substantial and high. Schools in the substantial category, meaning 50-99 new cases per 100,000 people, should be in hybrid instruction, offering both virtual and in-person learning. Nine out of Arizona’s 15 counties fall under the substantial category.
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