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Phoenix area meets two schools virus benchmarks for in-class learning

(AP Photo)

PHOENIX – Maricopa County has met two of three coronavirus benchmarks designed to guide schools on when it’s safe to start in-person learning again this year, Arizona health officials reported Thursday.

The state’s most populous county met the benchmarks for a two-week decline in cases, the Arizona Department of Health Services showed on its dashboard, which was unveiled last week and will be updated every Thursday.

The county also met guidance for two consecutive weeks with hospital visits for COVID-like illnesses below 10%, coming in at 5.3% for the week of July 26.

But the county did not meet the benchmark of two consecutive weeks with a positivity rate of 7% or less.

The positivity rate was 11.8%.

Some schools in the area have already announced plans to open campuses for learning next week. Monday is the first day that will be allowed under state requirements.

The dashboard data came from the weeks beginning July 19 and July 26 and doesn’t look at the past 12 days because of potential lags in data.

The metrics are guidelines, not requirements, and were produced in a joint effort between state health and education leaders.

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

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman on Wednesday urged schools to adhere to the benchmarks, although districts have the final say in the matter.

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

Each of the 15 counties met at least one metric.

Here’s a county-by-county breakdown in how they fared in meeting the benchmarks:

Pima – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Pinal – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Apache – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Cochise – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Coconino – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Gila – Hits 1 of 3 benchmarks.

Graham – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Greenlee – Hits 1 of 3 benchmarks.

La Paz – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Mohave – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Navajo – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Santa Cruz – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Yavapai – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

Yuma – Hits 2 of 3 benchmarks.

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