“We’re planning ahead to get kids and teachers safely back in the classroom for the start of the fall school year,” Ducey said in a statement, adding that the reopening of Arizona was moving forward “with a calm and steady approach” that includes following public health guidance and tracking COVID-19 infection data.
The number of new daily cases of COVID-19 in the state has declined since hitting a May 15 peak of 565, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. To date, Arizona has seen a total of 885 COVID-19 deaths, with the number of daily fatalities peaking at 26 on April 30, before gradually declining.
Speaking at a press conference Thursday, Ducey said that youth summer leagues, summer schools, and day camps can also reopen, with some resuming operations as soon as next week.
State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman is expected to provide detailed information on how students, teachers, and parents can protect themselves as schools reopen, Ducey said at the presser.
“To assist educators and school leaders in finding the best solutions for their community, @azedschools will release guidance on June 1st for reopening that provides a roadmap for schools to plan for a wide variety of scenarios and ensure the health and learning of their students,” Hoffman said in a tweet.
Changes students can expect as they return to classrooms include precautions like arrangements to allow for physical distancing, Ducey said.
“It will look different. It will feel different,” the governor said. “But the idea is that kids will have a more traditional, routine school day where possible and safe.”
He said an upcoming executive order would allow for greater child care capacity in school-based programs and that distance learning would remain an option “where needed.”
Dr. Cara Christ, state health director, said at the conference that school superintendents had flexible learning arrangements in place to ensure safety.
“There are multiple plans that they are putting into place so that children or teachers that are at risk can do distance or virtual learning, that there are opportunities to reduce class size, that there are disinfecting protocols and a lot of safety things put into place,” she said, adding that “this would be very flexible for both the families and the employees of the school district.”
Students will be encouraged to wash hands frequently and may remain in the classroom for lunch instead of going to the cafeteria.
“Schools supply so much more than education,” Christ said, adding, “and so it’s important to get these children back into school, back into a normal routine.”
“Of course, it’s going to be a new normal,” she said, adding, “washing hands, hand sanitizer, physical distancing, not mixing at lunch, not doing big assemblies.”
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