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Kathy Hoffman encourages online format amid delay of in-person classes

(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — With new coronavirus safety measures delaying the start of in-person classes across the state, Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman is asking for schools to have other methods of learning at the ready.

“We are encouraging schools to start their distance learning programs, or their online learning programs, as soon as they are ready to in terms of when their academic year was scheduled to start,” Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on Tuesday.

“So even though we have said that there will not be in-person instruction … we do not want to stop learning. We want to make sure that kids have every opportunity of reengaging with their teachers.”

As part of Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order on Monday, the start of in-person schooling will be delayed until at least Aug. 17. Most schools were slated to begin the academic year in early August.

“If you asked me a month ago or even two weeks ago I would have said plan for schools to be open and now the circumstances have changed so drastically in such a short period,” Hoffman said. “I would say this has been highly unpredictable.”

And even though there is a specific date mentioned on the order, Hoffman is advising parents and guardians to be prepared for anything.

“I would recommend a plan for all circumstances, this is highly unpredictable of what this will look like though July and through August,” Hoffman said.

One way the Arizona Education Association has tried to help maintain continued academics amid the pandemic has been through improving online development in teachers.

“As we move into online learning or hybrid models this year, there has been time to do professional development, there has been a lot of learning and there will be consequences around grades this time,” AEA President Joe Thomas told Arizona’s Morning News on KTAR News 92.3 FM on Tuesday.

“Educators want to support their students moving forward with the best educational opportunities they can but we have to have health and safety at the center of all our decisions. Right now, this state is a hotbed for this virus and we have to change our societal behaviors so we can make safe enough that we can open schools again in an in-person setting.”

While in-person classes provide the best learning opportunities for most, Thomas sees part of the upside in the governor’s decision to delay in-person instruction.

“We have schools that are looking at a lot of different plans,” Thomas said. “A delay gives us a little more time to figure that out, but really a delay gives Arizonans the ability to decide if they’re going to take this virus seriously and change their behaviors to stop making it so easy to spread.”

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