PHOENIX — The Arizona Department of Health Services said Thursday that Maricopa and Pima counties, as well as eight others, have now met the state's recommended benchmarks, allowing them to begin "hybrid" learning -- a mix of in-school and virtual learning.
On Thursday morning, officials announced that six counties -- Maricopa, Pima, Pinal, Navajo, Cochise and Coconino -- were added to the list of those that have met recommended benchmarks.
Apache, Greenlee, La Paz, and Yavapai counties had all previously met the benchmarks to begin hybrid learning, according to ADHS' online dashboard. However, on Thursday, ADHS announced that Greenlee and La Paz counties met the benchmarks to resume full in-person learning.
Five other counties in the state -- Mohave, Yuma, Santa Cruz, Graham and Gila -- have not yet met the three recommended benchmarks to resume any type of in-person learning.
To meet the benchmarks, ADHS looks at three data points: number of cases, percent of positivity, and COVID-like illnesses. Counties have to meet all three benchmarks for two weeks before being able to return to the classroom.
As of Wednesday, Maricopa and Pima counties had met two of the three benchmarks, according to ADHS' website. Both had not yet met the 7% percent of positivity benchmarks for the last two weeks as of Wednesday.
According to the "Safely Returning to In-Person Instruction" guide by ADHS, moving to the hybrid model would be implemented with multiple safety measures while there is "minimal to moderate community spread" of the coronavirus. Traditional learning should be utilized with zero to minimal community spread, with less restrictive safety measures.