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Superintendent Kathy Hoffman: State needs to do more for COVID-19

Posted at 3:55 PM, Nov 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 23:35:42-05

PHOENIX — In a tweet following Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey's Wednesday press conference, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she appreciated the governor's new mandate that all schools in the state have policies that require masks be worn on buses and on school grounds, but said "we must do more to minimize the spread of COVID19."

Superintendent Hoffman spoke with ABC15 on Monday, where she publicly asked the governor to issue a statewide mask mandate, the suspension of school sports, stricter enforcement at restaurants, and requiring testing and quarantining for fall and winter visitors, often referred to as snowbirds.

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego had also publicly asked Gov. Ducey to implement a statewide mask mandate.

On Wednesday, Gov. Ducey did not issue a statewide mask mandate, stating that 90% of the state was under a local or county mandate.

Gov. Ducey did mandate that all schools have policies that require masks be worn on school campuses and buses.

He also allocated $25 million to support Arizona hospitals and staff, asked for on-site testing at Phoenix Sky Harbor, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway, and Tucson airports, and extended the task force that is following data on COVID-19 vaccinations.

But Hoffman said the state needs to take further action.

"I appreciate the new effort to offer testing at our major airports, including @PHXSkyHarbor, and a uniform policy regarding masks in schools & school buses. Any effort to slow the spread is welcome & needed. But, we must do more to minimize the spread of #COVID19," she said in a series of tweets.

"As a former educator, many of my students relied on our school & its many services. I believe that schools should be one of our last institutions to close. However, to ensure teacher & student safety, school leaders must know that the state is doing everything possible."

"The bottom line is -- More aggressive action from the state is needed," she said.

During his press conference, Gov. Ducey also said he believes children should be in school, in person, but that parents and teachers should also have options, such as virtual learning.

The president of Arizona's largest teacher union, Joe Thomas, calls Wednesday's briefing disappointing and frustrating.

"I think the governor missed a real opportunity to lead," Thomas said. "I don't think 'pretty please' is going to cut it."

In a tweet, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego said Ducey's actions were "disappointing."

"The lack of leadership from @dougducey is disappointing. Arizona needs a statewide mask mandate. We need to protect one another and save lives," she said.