JIM SHARPE

COVID-19 and Arizona Gov. Ducey’s local control double standard

Jun 16, 2020, 12:45 PM | Updated: 1:04 pm
(Bae Byung-soo/Newsis via AP)...
(Bae Byung-soo/Newsis via AP)
(Bae Byung-soo/Newsis via AP)

Please don’t deny me the tiny break from reality I get while fantasizing that come August, the kids will be outta the house (after the longest spring break evah) and going to good, old-fashioned, pre-COVID school. 

After drooling on my pillow for a while, I’ve been harshly awakened to the reality that schools won’t look normal — at all — this fall and may not look the same for a long time. 

A lot of Arizonans have been dreaming a different fantasy: that Gov. Doug Ducey, who has been unwilling to require masks in public places, will relinquish control to local governments to do so. 

But the reality of who will decide how schools will look this fall may show exactly why the governor should turn that local-control fantasy into a local-control reality. 

Many parents are weighing safety concerns when deciding if their kids will go back to school campuses. Not so much out of concern for their kids’ safety (because children seem to be the least COVID-affected group) but out of concern for family members who could pick up the virus from the kids. 

Still, many kids will return to the classroom. 

But will the teachers be there to welcome them back? 

A new survey shows that almost 80% of Arizona teachers are willing to show up. 

That’s great — but since socially distancing kids will require more classrooms and more teachers, not 20% fewer, we need to assure the not-so-sure teachers that we’ll do everything we can to make them safe. 

And then beg if we have to. 

State schools superintendent Kathy Hoffman recommended masks in her “Roadmap for Reopening“ That’s just a recommendation but I think most Arizona districts will require masks for teachers, students and staff. 

Over the last few days, several people have said that Gov. Ducey needs to make masks a requirement for everybody doing business indoors. But despite Arizona being America’s hottest of the hotspots for coronavirus, he’s not there yet. 

So Tucson‘s mayor, Regina Romero, says let the local yokels have the power to do so. 

“Gov. Ducey needs to untie the hands of local governments and allow us to make decisions that are in the best interests of our communities and account for local conditions,” she said in a Twitter video. 

The argument against Gov. Ducey giving up that power to local governments is that we want a statewide, uniform approach — not a patchwork of laws. 

But if school districts are allowed to require masks, then that whole argument breaks down because the power to decide is already in the hands of the most local form of government in Arizona: your lil ol’ local school board.  

We want to hear from you.

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Jim Sharpe

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COVID-19 and Arizona Gov. Ducey’s local control double standard