PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced Sunday a statewide closure of Arizona schools from March 16 through Friday, March 27.
Governor Ducey says he and Superintendent Hoffman will work with education leaders and public health officials to reassess the need for school closures and provide additional guidance through March 27.
According to a Sunday press release, the Governor's Office and the Department of Education are working to implement directives to minimize the impact of the closure for Arizona kids, including access to healthcare and nutritional meals, as well as sanitary precautions schools can take upon reopening of schools.
“Over the past few weeks and in coordination with public health officials, we have been in close communication with school administrators to provide guidance and be a resource as it relates to the recent outbreak of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “A statewide closure is the right thing to do. While this measure will not stop the spread of COVID-19, it will bring certainty and consistency in schools across Arizona.”
“The health and safety of all our students is our top priority, and we’ve worked hard to keep our school doors open — schools provide important services and many families rely on them for nutrition, access to health care and in order to do their own jobs,” said Superintendent Hoffman.
We’re joining together to keep Arizona’s kids, families, and school communities safe and healthy. Arizona is united, and we’ll get through this. @Supt_Hoffman @azedschools #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/B5PbYldejp— Doug Ducey (@dougducey) March 15, 2020
Ducey said the closure does extend to private schools. Officials say stand-alone preschools would make their own decisions and some will likely stay open to help with growing childcare needs. Some school districts may also choose to keep their preschools open for the same reason, but that's a district-by-district decision.
In a letter to Arizona families, educators and community leaders on Sunday, Ducey said he is working to make sure educators don't see a disruption to their pay. He will also be consulting with district and legislative partners to determine the extent of any potential makeup days.
In regards to statewide testing, Ducey said he is working with federal officials in the event the state needs to secure a waiver.
Earlier in the day, the Arizona Education Association had called for students to stay home until a more detailed plan surrounding the coronavirus outbreak was developed. The group had also called on Gov. Ducey to take quick action on the situation, including convening the legislature in a special session.
As part of Gov. Ducey's Sunday announcement, he also noted that he would be following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that large-scale events, such as festivals, concerts, and weddings, should be canceled or postponed.