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Arizona schools chief Hoffman scolds Trump on threat to cut funding

(AP Photo/Jonathan J. Cooper)

PHOENIX — Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman on Thursday pushed back against a threat from President Donald Trump to cut funding for schools that don’t fully reopen for in-person instruction during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hoffman also expressed doubt over Arizona schools’ ability to reopen for limited in-person learning Aug. 17 since case numbers continue to skyrocket in the state.

“These threats are not welcome here in Arizona,” Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show. “We are facing such a crisis here and it’s very disorienting when just a week ago, Vice President Pence said he was sending Arizona 500 doctors because he recognized the severity of the crisis here.

“I think the federal government needs to realize that those kinds of comments are not appropriate and not welcome here in Arizona.”

Trump’s remarks came Wednesday as part of his push to reopen schools prior to the Nov. 3 general election. He also questioned guidelines on how to properly reopen schools from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gov. Doug Ducey delayed the start of in-school instruction on June 29 because of Arizona’s rising COVID-19 cases.

Hoffman said she’s been discouraged about the possibility of reopening because the numbers aren’t getting better.

The rate of positive PCR tests in Arizona reached 13.9% Thursday. That rate was 12% on June 30 and 6.7% on May 31.

Hoffman said a positive rate near 5% is what the state is looking for in order to feel comfortable about reopening schools to students.

“We are still experiencing a significant spread in terms of the outbreak of COVID-19 here in Arizona. I share the goal of wanting so badly to open our schools,” Hoffman said.

“That is what’s best for students. It’s just been incredibly challenging for our teachers and families transitioning to online or distance learning.”

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