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Arizona Lawmakers Draft Bill Addressing Longer School Closure

Published: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 1:44pm
Updated: Thursday, March 19, 2020 - 1:46pm
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Michelle Udall

Last Sunday, Gov. Doug Ducey and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman ordered a statewide school closure through March 27. But what will those two weeks of closures mean for schools and what happens if schools can’t reopen by then? 

State Rep. Michelle Udall (R-Mesa) and state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-Snowflake) have drafted a bill that attempts to answer those questions. 

If schools resume by March 30, the bill would exempt schools from having to make up those lost days, extend the window for required statewide standardized tests through the end of May and hold schools harmless for school letter grades for this school year. 

“We can’t give up on our students during this crisis,” Allen said in a Wednesday statement. “Our proposal gives schools the flexibility and certainty needed for students to keep learning and finish the school year strong.”

But if the closure extends beyond March 30, the bill would cancel state standardized tests for this school year. The bill asks schools to provide alternative learning opportunities. 

"I think this is a good opportunity, especially for those younger kids, to really hone in on some of those basic skills that, at this time of the year, can be reinforced,'' Udall said. “That involves a lot of reading, a lot of practicing math.”

The bill also requires the state Board of Education to immediately develop rules for graduation for this school year. 

"What we figure is if a student is on track to graduate this year that we're not going to do anything to prevent them from graduating,'' Udall said.

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