PHOENIX — An urgent call for more action coming from State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman Monday, as school districts across Arizona weigh the risks of remaining in person while coronavirus numbers spike.
"I think we need to be doing more as a state because I am just absolutely terrified of what the future might hold for Arizona if we continue on this path," Hoffman told ABC15's Danielle Lerner.
Just one week ago, Hoffman briefed the media alongside ADHS Director Dr. Cara Christ and several district superintendents. The group pleaded with Arizonans to take the virus seriously, wear their masks and physically distance themselves from others so schools can stay open and safe. Hoffman now fears those ongoing requests are falling flat.
"To me, it just doesn't seem like it's being effective anymore," she said.
Right now, rural areas are particularly struggling to slow the spread. Several Phoenix-area districts have been remote since the spring and governing boards across the state are faced with increasingly difficult decisions.
"The numbers are continuing to skyrocket and it is having a devastating impact on our education system," said Hoffman.
The superintendent says she is happy with the guidance, benchmarks and partnerships they have put in place, but adds the data shows they are not doing enough.
"I feel like I see the writing on the wall and the numbers are going in the wrong direction," said Hoffman. "Governor Ducey has also said that, that the numbers are going in the wrong direction."
Governor Ducey's most recent video message on Monday mentions teachers briefly, but says nothing more about schools or taking additional actions. Hoffman says her team speaks with the governor's team weekly and that she hopes for a meeting before the next legislative session.
For your family. For the vulnerable people in our lives. For our health care workers. It’s never been more important:— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) November 16, 2020
✔️ Mask up
✔️ Stay home when sick
✔️ Avoid large gatherings and move them outside whenever possible
Find more guidance at: https://t.co/nHPqqGhUmu pic.twitter.com/vziJky8IWO
"It's hard for me to say what comes next," said Hoffman. "All I can do is stay focused on reminding people to keep paying attention and really elevating the voices of those who are on the front lines as much as possible."
A spokesman for the governor sent the below response to ABC15's request for comment regarding Superintendent Hoffman's concerns.
"We value the strong working relationship we’ve had with Superintendent Hoffman and the Department of Education throughout this crisis. We’ve collaborated closely with them to provide guidance, resources, PPE, metrics and more to schools, and will continue working together to prioritize safety and our kids."
"We value the strong working relationship we’ve had with Superintendent Hoffman and the Department of Education throughout this crisis," a spokesperson for Ducey, Patrick Ptak said Monday. "We’ve collaborated closely with them to provide guidance, resources, PPE, metrics and more to schools, and will continue working together to prioritize safety and our kids."