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Arizona sets virus spread guidelines for school reopenings

Posted at 4:07 PM, Aug 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 19:09:22-04

PHOENIX — Arizona officials have released a series of guidelines that public schools are urged to use when deciding whether it's safe to reopen for full in-person learning.

But state health director Dr. Cara Christ said Thursday that it is going to be several weeks before any county meets those benchmarks.

The scientific guidelines released by Christ and schools chief Kathy Hoffman lay out three key measurements of the virus' community impact.

These are the benchmarks AZDHS recommends at the county level:

  • Cases: a two-week decline in weekly average cases OR two weeks below 100 cases per 100,000 population
  • Diagnostic test percent positivity: two weeks with positivity below 7%
  • COVID-19-Like-Illness Syndromic Surveillance: two weeks with less than 10% of hospital visits due to COVID-like illness

The AZDHS also set up another dashboard showing each county's progress on the three benchmarks. According to that data, Pima County meets the two benchmarks on a decline in cases and COVID-like illness surveillance, but not the benchmark on testing.

They are just guidelines, and school districts won't be required to follow them.

But Hoffman discouraged school districts from deviating and said voters should hold their school boards accountable if they ignore the guidance.

RELATED: Superintendent Kathy Hoffman: Arizona not in a place to begin in-person learning by August 17