Ducey: Arizona still planning for school in the fall

PHOENIX —“You are safer at home; the virus is widespread.”

Gov. Doug Ducey offered those words of caution, as well as asking — but not mandating —that Arizonans “mask up,” during a press conference Thursday.

But despite his request for residents to stay home, he said the state continues to plan for children in the classroom for the 2020-21 school year. He said his office is working with district superintendents and principals on “maximum flexibility,” because not every child succeeds in a distance-learning environment.

“We’re not acting as if we know anything for certain about what’s going to happen in the future,” Ducey said. “What we want to do is provide for the education of our children in the safest, most successful way, and have options out there.”

The governor’s office recently announced $270 million in one-time funding for schools, with $200 million dedicated to helping schools with remote learning and protecting against loss of revenue due to enrollment declines. Another $40 million is to increase broadband in rural communities and $6 million to help increase the number of teachers.

Ducey added that Arizona remains in the first wave of COVID-19 cases, with an average of 2,750 new cases per day.

“Some states were hit in March, April and May. Our time of getting hit is right now; June, July and August,” he said. “This is Arizona’s first wave, and this will not be our last wave.”