TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order Wednesday that required schools statewide to offer in-person learning.
Ducey cited Centers for Disease Control and Prevention metrics that say 12 of the state's 15 counties are in phases in which schools are safe to reopen.
“Arizona’s students need to be back in the classroom," Ducey said in a statement. "More than half of Arizona’s schools are open and offering in-person options. More schools need to follow their lead, and pave the way for equitable education options for every Arizona student. The CDC and numerous health officials have said time and time again that schools are safe and kids can go back to the classroom. We prioritized teachers in our vaccine distribution, and many have already received their second dose. The science is clear: it’s time all kids have the option to return to school so they can get back on track and we can close the achievement gap.”
The order instructs schools to return to in-person learning by March 15, or after Spring Break. Exceptions include middle and high schools in counties with high COVID-19 transmission levels: Coconino, Yavapai and Pinal.
Students are allowed to continue taking part in remote learning if their parents choose.
In a statement Wednesday, Arizona Superintendent Kathy Hoffman said she supports schools' decisions to reopen in-person learning, but said schools would need "adequate time" to meet a hard deadline.
"However, the timing of this announcement will make it challenging for some schools that had already made plans to return to in-person instruction on a different schedule due to their local community circumstances," she said in a statement. "To achieve stability for our school communities, it’s necessary to provide them with adequate time to inform and ready their staff, students and families."