Arizona health expert: School leaders risk voter fallout if metrics ignored

Aug 7, 2020, 4:35 AM | Updated: 11:53 am
(Getty Images Leon Neal)...
(Getty Images Leon Neal)
(Getty Images Leon Neal)

PHOENIX — The former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services said Thursday he believes electoral incentives will motivate school leaders to follow metrics for in-person learning.

“If there’s a school district out there or governing board that decides they’re going to go another way, they’re going to have to deal with the parents and the teachers and the students in that district,” Will Humble, who is now the executive director of the Arizona Public Health Association, told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad.

“They’re elected officials … If you’re going to do something other than what these benchmarks say, then you’ve got some explaining to do.”

Earlier on Thursday, Arizona health officials released much-anticipated benchmarks for districts to achieve before schools resume in-person instruction this academic year.

A positive rate of 7% or less for two consecutive weeks would give schools the green light to return to any in-person instruction.

Case rates also should be less than 100 per 100,000 people or see a two-week decline in number of cases.

The final metric requires hospital visits due to COVID-like illness be under 10%.

“These are good benchmarks,” Humble Said.

Most school districts began the academic year this week with virtual-only instruction.

As the state grappled with a surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Doug Ducey signed an executive order June 29 delaying the beginning of in-school instruction until at least Aug. 17.

Ducey’s decision came after some schools districts had already pushed back their start dates, though most were were scheduled to begin the academic year in early August.

Schools were shut down for in-person learning on March 16 due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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Arizona health expert: School leaders risk voter fallout if metrics ignored