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Kathy Hoffman
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Arizona plans to open schools by next academic year, Kathy Hoffman says

(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — The head of Arizona’s public schools is answering the question most parents have in mind: When will schools reopen?

“We are currently planning for schools to be opening at the beginning of the next school year,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

She said there are no specifics yet on exactly what schools will look like when they reopen. Her office is working with stakeholders on those details.

“We’re aiming to have this framework or this plan available for distribution by the end of May,” she said.

Hoffman said her department will provide guidance for schools but their plans to reopen will likely vary depending on their needs.

“Many of our rural schools, for example, do not have a school nurse on campus,” she said, adding teachers and staff might need to help meet some of the needs.

Schools have been closed for five weeks in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In the meantime, many have turned to online platforms to continue educating students.

Hoffman said she expects students will be at different ability levels when they return to school.

“There are some students who have actually been able to jump ahead during this time,” she said. “They’re excelling, they’re thriving in this online environment and getting their school work done very rapidly.”

“But there are far too many students who do not have the same connectivity or access to the technology at home,” she continued, adding it will be critical for schools to provide interventions and resources to students who need it most.

Hoffman also said she encourages teachers to assess students’ ability levels, either through assignments or informal types of testing, and come up with a plan to “meet the students where they’re at.”

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