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Gov. Doug Ducey says he wants schools to remain open in Arizona

Kristina Washington, special education staff member at Desert Heights Preparatory Academy, walks past a series of desks and chairs at the school Monday, June 1, 2020, in Phoenix, returning to her classroom for only the second time since the coronavirus outbreak closed schools. Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman released guidelines on Monday for reopening the state's K-12 schools in August. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey believes Arizona’s schools should remain open for in-person learning, despite the state’s recent rise in coronavirus cases.

The second-term Republican governor told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that the option of keeping students in school exists in the state and that he believes it’s the option going forward.

“I do want kids in school and what I’d say is in many of our schools that option does exist,” Ducey said. “So I want our schools open. And it’s not my opinion on this. This is the public health guidance.”

He mentioned the opinion of CDC Director Robert Redfield, who has supported the continuation of in-person schooling.

Ducey said that it’s up to parents to decide which is best for their children.

“I know there are some parents that don’t want their kids in school, we’ve given them that option,” Ducey said. “We have some teachers that have a co-morbidity, so we’ve given them that option of being the teacher that teaches that online.

“But schools are a safe place according to public health, and parents have a lot more power in this situation than they think. They can vote with their feet. There are schools that are open and teaching every day. And I commend all of our teachers and our educators, but I want to do what’s best for our children and that’s our expectation.”

Ducey addressed the state’s hybrid model and the lack of pressure that he’s put on school districts to remain open during the pandemic.

He defended the administration’s actions, saying the decision on whether or not a school can stay open rests with the local school district.

“There’s local control and by-and-large we believe in local control. We want to continue that. But we do want our schools to remain open,” Ducey said. “What happened in the spring was different because so much was unknown.

“I’ve worked together with [Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy] Hoffman because there really just was a public concern and among the teachers.

“As we come to the fall, it’s different.”

Overall, key pandemic metrics have been rising in Arizona at a rate not seen since the first wave hit in June and July. Cases have been surging since the beginning of October and are approaching record levels.

The state health department reported 4,544 new coronavirus cases and 51 more deaths on Tuesday, putting Arizona’s documented totals at 306,868 COVID-19 infections and 6,515 fatalities.

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