PHOENIX — Arizona school board members and medical professionals gathered at the State Capitol Monday to deliver a letter to Governor Doug Ducey, asking that he push back the in-person start date to October 1. More than 100 school board members from all over the state have signed that letter.
School leaders said Monday it's not safe for students and staff to physically be back at schools on August 17, the date Governor Ducey said students can go back to classrooms.
"Governor Ducey, Superintendent Hoffman and our legislators, we are calling upon you to do what is right. If you open schools this fall, and we see an increase in infections and death, you will have the blood of our students, teachers and their families on your hands," said Lindsay Love from the Chandler Unified School District.
"The prospect of putting our teachers and all of our staff members --from bus drivers, admins staff, cafeteria workers--putting them back in a situation that puts them and their families at risk is very very scary to me and very scary to us," said Adam Lopez Falk from the Alhambra Elementary School District.
Channel Powe from the BALSZ School District said they need more time to come up with programs that help lower-income families or those with certain needs.
"We have to really work to help mitigate those students who have special needs, disabilities, different learning styles and those who are unable to distance learn," she said.
"It's critical that meal programs, wellness checks, social services and therapies be given special considerations at this time," said Dr. Meredith Worman, a pediatric plastic surgeon.
They're asking Governor Ducey to fully fund remote learning for the first quarter--to see if COVID-19 cases decrease in the state, and they can re-evaluate.
"It is his duty to make sure that our schools are fully funded and able to deal with the challenges we're facing," said Devin del Palacio from the Tolleson Union High School District.
"Governor Ducey has shown that he has a gross lack of judgment, insight, moral and ethical clarity or courage. He has acted as a leader in name only, said Dr. Dione mills, an obstetrics and gynecology specialist.
Several school districts have decided on their own to push back that date through Labor Day or even Fall Break. But there's concern that schools won't receive full funding for remote learning if they don't offer in-person teaching or provide a place for students to distance-learn.
The governor's office sent ABC15 this statement in response:
"Our approach since this virus started has been to work with the education community. We're listening and will be working with Superintendent Hoffman and other education leaders on how and when it's best to safely re-open schools."