Gov. Ducey sticks to plan to resume in-person learning for Arizona schools
PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday stuck with his plan to resume in-person instruction during the middle of August for Arizona schools.
Ducey added that more discussions on the viability of reopening schools on Aug. 17 would be had next week.
The Republican governor signed an executive order June 29 delaying the beginning of in-school instruction two weeks until at least Aug. 17.
Ducey has cited the continued high frequency of coronavirus cases and positive test percentages as reasons for moving back the date, which he has called aspirational.
“I want you to know that Arizona will be opening for learning this school year,” Ducey said during a press conference.
The decision comes amid growing pressure from the White House to reopen schools in the fall.
President Donald Trump has threatened to cut funding for schools that don’t fully reopen for in-person instruction during the pandemic.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman has pushed back against Trump’s promises, saying Arizona isn’t ready to reopen schools.
Hoffman has said a positive test rate near 5% is what the state is looking for in order to feel comfortable about reopening schools to students.
Arizona was at 14.3% as of Thursday morning.
Ducey and Cara Christ, the state’s top public health official, both said they’d feel comfortable sending their children back to school.
“These threats are not welcome here in Arizona,” Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show on July 9.
Most Arizona schools will start the academic year Aug. 3 with remote-only instruction.
Districts have already begun postponing plans to return to in-person learning as coronavirus cases remain high in the state.
Ducey previously allotted about $270 million in coronavirus relief bill funding to increase remote learning options, protect schools against budget shortfalls, increase broadband for students in rural communities and more in preparation for an altered school year.
“I know people want clarity around this and we are going to provide clarity,” Ducey said. “I am going to tell you our kids are going to be learning in the fall.
“We are going to do our best to conduct the most positive educational year that we can. And I will be providing the most specific guidance that I can.”