Schools to remain closed at least until April 10

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, right, shown here with EAC President Todd Haynie during a 2019 visit, announced with Governor Doug Ducey on Friday that public schools will remain closed through April 10.

By Jon Johnson

PHOENIX – On Friday, Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced that schools will remain closed through April 10 due to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic. 

“We want you to know that our goal is to get kids safely back in the classroom as soon as possible while providing parents and educators certainty so they can plan and make decisions,” Ducey said in the announcement. “We’ll continue to work together to determine what’s best for Arizona kids and schools in the face of COVID-19.”

Hoffman advised that daily meals are being provided at schools for children under the age of 18. A list of meal sites can be found here. 

Locally, schools have begun to examine the possibility of providing online instruction from the home and have sent out feelers in their districts as to who has access to a computer and if parents would be interested in purchasing Chromebooks at a discounted price. 

Safford Unified School District Director of Instructional Services A.J. Taylor advised that Safford is working on plans and scenarios and that its goal is to have a plan to educate all students utilizing online resources if need be. While extended school closures could impact academics, athletics, graduation, and state testing, the main goal would be to meet the academic needs and graduation that could be met through a distance learning plan, according to Taylor. 

Hoffman said that statewide assessments will be waived for this school year and that the Arizona Department of Education is working to provide guidance to local school districts regarding graduation. Ducey advised that the legislature working to ensure teacher and school staff pay is not disrupted during the closures. He also advised that childcare is being made to those who need it. A list of childcare options can be found here.  

“It’s important to note that the safest place for children during this time is at home and they should not be cared for by elderly adults or those with underlying health conditions,” Ducey said.  

On Friday, Eastern Arizona College announced that it has canceled commencement ceremonies for graduation and that courses would move to remote learning when its classes resume March 30. 

“We are unified in our efforts to address COVID-19 and we appreciate your cooperation and understanding,” Ducey said. “Our number one priority is the health and safety of all our residents, especially our kids, and as facts and guidance change, we will monitor them closely and keep you updated.”

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