Maricopa County unveils schools-specific dashboard for reopening
PHOENIX — Maricopa County unveiled Friday a schools-specific coronavirus dashboard designed to give metro Phoenix residents a better look into when in-person instruction should begin.
The dashboard allows users to search data on the state’s benchmark recommendations for safe reopening by school district, zip code or city.
It also provides a recommendation for how schools should be operating based on the data.
Maricopa County said the dashboard will be updated every Thursday and started by using data from late July and early August because of potential lags.
The dashboard comes about a week after the state’s health department released the three benchmarks meant to be used on a county-by-county basis.
The benchmarks were unveiled in advance of Monday, the first day schools can return to in-person learning.
Maricopa County met two of the three benchmarks in Thursday’s update, but was still multiple weeks away from reaching the benchmark of a positivity rate of 7% or less.
Some Valley school districts fell in the moderate threshold for reopening, for which the county recommends some in-person learning.
Most districts in Maricopa County haven’t announced when they will begin offering classroom learning this academic year.
One notable exception is Queen Creek Unified, which voted Tuesday night to open for families ready to send their kids to school starting Monday while continuing to offer the remote learning option.
Queen Creek Unified is currently in the substantial spread category, meaning health leaders recommend no in-person learning options.
Gov. Doug Ducey hasn’t taking issue with Arizona districts opening classrooms in counties that haven’t met the state’s COVID-19 benchmarks.
“We’re supportive of the districts,” he said during a press conference Thursday.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman had different thought on districts that defy the benchmarks.
“I think that’s really toxic for the community that they’re making decisions that are putting their staff and their teachers’ lives at risk,” Hoffman said during a meeting with the University of Arizona’s Education Policy Center. “It’s very devastating.”