Arizona’s schools chief slams Ducey for limiting COVID mitigation policies

Jul 28, 2021, 6:28 PM | Updated: Jul 29, 2021, 2:30 am
(AP Photo/Matt York)...
(AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — Arizona’s schools chief didn’t mince words Wednesday criticizing Gov. Doug Ducey limiting the ability for schools in the state to enforce COVID-19 mitigation measures, including requiring face masks.

“You can tell that he’s not asking our school leaders what would help them have in-person instruction, he’s just making big political moves to get on national TV,” Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad.

She added the two haven’t been working closely because she can’t be associated with his poor decision making.

Ducey signed a state budget last month that included a provision preventing local jurisdictions, including school boards, from mandating face masks or vaccines as a condition of participating in in-person instruction.

The move came after Ducey rescinded an order in April that had directed K-12 public and charter schools to require face coverings, but allowed districts to mandate masks and enforce other policies to stop the spread of the virus.

“This has been extremely frustrating that every time we turn around, this has become more and more political rather than following the science,” Hoffman said. “What we really need here in Arizona is steady leadership rather than this issue, this pandemic and public health crisis being politicized.”

It’s been a long time since he’s asked any educator for guidance on what our schools need.”

Hoffman said the policies put in place by Ducey and the state Legislature have been really disruptive.

“For them to take away the authority of our school leaders to make decisions based on what their community needs and to keep their students and teachers safe is asinine,” she said.

“I don’t know why they would take this direction.”

School leaders are frustrated by the policies and feel like their hands are tied but they do try to stick within the limits of the law, Hoffman said.

While she has yet to hear of any possible lawsuits regarding the policy, Hoffman said she wouldn’t be surprised if there was litigation in the near future.

Hoffman added the policy didn’t go through the typical legislative process and there wasn’t an opportunity for public comment, saying it seemed very last minute and does not follow guidance of public health experts.

“To me, it did not seem well thought out at all.”

With the announcement that Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, is leaving the state agency next month, Hoffman said she was very concerned about Christ’s replacement.

“I hope that they are committed to the science and they can help to guide the governor’s office in making better decisions.”

Arizona health officials on Wednesday reported 1,361 new COVID-19 cases and two additional deaths from the disease.

It was the 15th time in the last 16 days that more than 1,000 daily cases were reported after not seeing numbers that high since March.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)...
Associated Press

Sanders says he may support Sinema challenger in Arizona primary

Sen. Bernie Sanders suggested Tuesday that he'd support primary challengers against Democratic colleagues Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, further intensifying a political battle within the party.
6 hours ago
(File Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)...

Maricopa community colleges get $17.1M from cannabis tax in first year of legality

Taxes from the sale of recreational cannabis during the first year of legality in Arizona resulted in millions of dollars for local community colleges, officials said Tuesday.
6 hours ago
Hualapai tribal dancers. (File Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)...

2 Arizona tribes to receive $1.6M in latest round of US tribal housing grants

Two tribes in northern Arizona will receive $1.6 million in federal grants as part of COVID-19 relief efforts, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced Tuesday.
6 hours ago
(Facebook photo/Phoenix Zoo)...

Phoenix Zoo to host extra night of ZooLights for adults on Thursday

Adults can go through the Phoenix Zoo's annual ZooLights holiday display one final time on Thursday before the experience is turned off until next winter. 
6 hours ago
(Petrified Forest National Park Photo)...

Skull of extinct crocodile-like reptile to be on display at Arizona museum

People will soon be able to get a look at the skull of a crocodile-like reptile that lived in Arizona millions of years ago.
6 hours ago
(City of Buckeye Photo)...

Yeehaw! Buckeye Days to celebrate city’s Old West beginnings

The West Valley city of Buckeye is throwing a party later this month to celebrate its history with a cattle drive parade, a rodeo and more, officials announced Tuesday.
6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Arizona State University

This is the best year to get your MBA

Getting a master’s degree is a major commitment of time, energy, and money, so returning to school — even if you’re thinking about a part-time program that allows you to keep working — is one of the biggest decisions of your career.
GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 27: Wide receivers John Brown #12 and Larry Fitzgerald #11 of the Arizona C...
Arizona Department of Gaming

The most memorable games in Arizona sports history every fan needs to know

Sports teams in Arizona have seen their fair share of instant classic games, but there's a few that every fan needs to know.
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
Arizona’s schools chief slams Ducey for limiting COVID mitigation policies