School opening still on target, will start via distance learning

Contributed Photo. Kathy Hoffman, left, answers questions during a press conference with Gov. Doug Ducey on Thursday. Hoffman said all schools are expected to open with distance learning before transitioning to in-person instruction.

PHOENIX — Arizona public schools will be opening on schedule; however, that doesn’t mean the doors to the schools will be open to students.

Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, said Thursday each school is expected within the next few weeks to begin the 2020-21 school year with distance learning, before transitioning to in-person instruction. And there must be a minimum of 180 days of in-person instruction.

“The intent behind this requirement for onsite learning is that we do have students who, for them, school is the safest place for them to be. We have at-risk student populations, where students need very special services that only their school can provide,” Hoffman said.

Benchmarks for in-person instruction are being established by Arizona’s Department of Education and Department of Health Services, and are expected to be rolled out to schools by Aug. 7. One of the requirements is that all adults in the schools must wear face coverings; however, there will be some exceptions from that requirement for students.

Gov. Doug Ducey added that an addition $370 million will be coming to the schools from the state via the federal CARES Act.

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the state’s Department of Health Services, said there will also be protocols for parent notification when a teacher, student or administrator in a school tests positive for COVID-19.