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Arizona Superintendent Hoffman Says Schools Reopening By Aug. 17 'Unlikely'

By Ben Giles, Lauren Gilger, Steve Goldstein
Published: Monday, August 3, 2020 - 6:50pm
Updated: Tuesday, August 4, 2020 - 7:09pm

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Kathy Hoffman
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Kathy Hoffman at a news conference on July 23, 2020.

While schools await guidance on reopening from the state health department, Arizona’s top education official said it’s unlikely any school can reopen by Aug. 17.

That’s the date Gov. Doug Ducey ordered schools to reopen, at least in a limited capacity to provide a place for students who have nowhere else to go during traditional school hours.

But in a statement released Monday, Kathy Hoffman, the superintendent of public instruction, said schools leaders should prepare for different learning opportunities.

“As school leaders, we should prepare our families and teachers for the reality that it is unlikely that any school community will be able to reopen safety for traditional in-person or hybrid instruction by Aug. 17,” she said. “Our state is simply not ready to have all our students and educators congregate in school facilities.”

Hoffman said every Arizonan must do their part to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.

“We should not expect or ask the majority of Arizona’s students and teachers to make a return to school facilities until the spread of COVID-19 is under control,” she said.

Hoffman added that accommodations will be made for students with critical service needs, like special education therapies.

Decisions about how to reopen will ultimately be left to local officials. The Arizona Department of Health Services has vowed to release benchmarks to guide those decisions by Friday, but meeting those metrics won’t be mandatory.

Still, Hoffman urged school leaders to use the benchmarks “as the foundation of their decision-making.”

“Schools should be prepared to be held accountable by teachers, parents and families to make evidence-based decisions,” she said.

Superintendent Hoffman joined The Show put her statement into perspective.

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