Governor Doug Ducey and State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced Tuesday schools across Arizona will soon serve as “Student Enrichment Centers,” offering free childcare and meals to better support workers in critical roles related to COVID-19, including first responders, critical healthcare and child safety workers.
“I’m really happy that we’re able to help to meet that demand as that need has only intensified,” said Hoffman.
Right now schools statewide are closed through at least April 10 and the goal is to have centers up and running by next week. The exact locations are still to be determined but districts will be targeting sites near hospitals as an added convenience for healthcare workers.
Governor Ducey’s Education Policy Advisor, Kaitlin Harrier, says the idea is loosely based on the model used in New York City. She says with many districts and schools already offering something similar, the state is reaching out to see if school employees are willing to be reassigned for the closures. They’ll also be taking community volunteers.
“We would require that they do a background check before working with children,” Hoffman said.
- Centers will be open Monday through Friday, with hours and ages varying by location.
- Children, staff and volunteers will have their temperatures taken before entering, and anyone with a fever will be turned away.
- Centers will follow CDC and AZDHS guidance on cleaning and social distancing, so no more than nine children and one staff member to a room.
- Sites will be offered based on the child’s address and their parent or caregiver’s eligibility.
As for when the school closures could lift, Hoffman said, “ That’s still yet to be determined. We’re just trying to be attentive, monitoring that data as closely as possible.”
More information is expected by the end of the week regarding eligibility, how to apply and capacity. Anyone with immediate questions can contact AZEnrichmentCenters@az.gov.