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Educators in Tucson react to Gov. Ducey's order to reopen schools

Posted at 10:15 PM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-04 00:15:06-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — A day after one Governor lifts a statewide mask mandate, another Governor, Doug Ducey, decides its time for children in Arizona to go back to school by March 15th.

"It feels a bit like a stunt to take credit for reopening the schools."

Margaret Cheney, President of the Tucson Education Association, said the Governor is trying to curry favor among a base of voters.

"To me this is just an empty executive order to win some political points."

She said Tucson Unified already had plans for a several weeks, to go back to in-person learning on March 24th.

She said political leaders should focus on making schools safer as they return to class during the ongoing pandemic.

"Making sure that all of our staff and teachers are vaccinated or have access to vaccines. Making sure that if anybody has ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) issues, that those are taken care of."

Cheney said that also means supplying schools with the right tools.

"PPE (personal protective equipment), all of those sorts of things that we've been focused on for over a year now."

KGUN9 reached out to Tucson Unified School District for comment.

A spokesperson said they will hold a press conference on Thursday with updates.

Cheney said the Governor should provide funding to TUSD and other districts across the state instead of what she called an 'empty order.'

"What he should be doing is making sure that the districts have all the funding that they need to keep everybody safe, but instead he's sort of squirreling it away in this 'rainy day fund' because apparently, it's never rained in Arizona."

No matter what happens, Cheney said, educators will be ready to do their job for their students.

"We can't let them down. It's not their fault that this virus has gone crazy, it's not their fault that vaccines were slow, it's not their fault that the governor wants to short us funding."

Metrics taken by the Centers for Disease Control report that 12 of the state's 15 counties are in phases where schools are safe to open.

Middle and high schools in the other three counties are not required to offer in-person learning by that deadline.