With several school districts set to start the second semester on Monday, January 4, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is calling for Governor Ducey to mandate a two-week period of distance learning statewide to align with quarantine protocols, citing rising COVID numbers and the current strain on our healthcare system.
This also comes as the AZDHS benchmarks recommend virtual learning for all counties in Arizona.
Several districts in Arizona have made the decision to begin the second semester remotely. However, districts like Peoria Unified, Dysart Unified, Gilbert Public Schools, Chandler Unified, Higley Unified and Queen Creek Unified have decided to continue in-person learning.
ABC15 has been tracking developments regarding potential "sickouts" in districts like Gilbert Public Schools and Chandler Unified, as educators voice their concerns regarding in-person instruction.
In response to Hoffman's request, C.J. Karamargin with Governor Doug Ducey's office says:
"Gov. Ducey will not be considering this request or issuing this kind of mandate. This is a local decision, the online option is already available, and the governor has repeatedly made his preference clear: Kids have already lost out on a lot of learning, and he wants schools opened, safely."
In a recent interview with ABC15's Danielle Lerner, Hoffman said she supported in-person learning, if it can be done safely.
"I think you could have a situation where a school can have zero cases, teachers, students, zero cases, and if everyone is wearing a mask, which is required, then I think that is a very low-risk environment," she said. "I do think that you could be that granular in your decision making by looking school by school."
Saturday, Superintendent Hoffman took to Twitter to address her concerns.
This week, @azedschools will provide additional information to school districts and charter schools to assist public health officials with vaccine distribution.— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) January 2, 2021
I look forward to a safe return of our teachers and students to the classroom. But now, we must do everything possible to help our healthcare workers and keep our teachers and students safe.— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) January 2, 2021
After this two-week quarantine period, it will be imperative for school leaders to use local health data and continue working closely with local health officials to decide the appropriate instructional model for their communities.— Kathy Hoffman (@Supt_Hoffman) January 2, 2021