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State Superintendent "hopeful" schools can reopen next school year

Posted at 4:38 PM, Apr 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-25 19:38:42-04

Students and parents are wrapping up week five of remote learning, and ABC15's Danielle Lerner is asking Arizona's state superintendent what so many families want to know, "When will schools reopen and will students be ready for next school year?"

"We have started that planning and as of now, it's very hard to predict of course, but as of right now we're hopeful schools can reopen next school year," said State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman.

Hoffman is hopeful but does not have any specifics yet on exactly when schools will reopen or what that will look like. Those details are now the focus of a comprehensive, statewide reopening plan that is set to be finished and released to the public by the end of May.

"What's most important is making sure we have the policies and procedures in place so that, in terms of cleaning and thinking about, do our schools even have the appropriate PPE, or thermometers, and what does that look like?" asked Hoffman.

Right now, learning looks different for families across the state. Hoffman says it is inevitable that disparities in technology and internet access will require extra attention from teachers and staff next school year.

"The issues with access are definitely going to create different ability levels; it's all the more reason why we need to have the appropriate resources," Hoffman said. "Whether that's interventions, reading specialists or math specialists who can do small group interventions.... even with the economic downturn we have to find a way to maintain our current levels of funding because our public school system has not even fully recovered from the last recession in terms of funding."

So as state and county health agencies track the number of COVID-19 cases daily, districts are also watching closely to make sure students and staff are safe if, and when, schools reopen.

"It's just going to take a lot of planning and again, a lot of transparency and communication to families about what precautions are being taken," said Hoffman.