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Superintendent Kathy Hoffman talks state's guidance on reopening schools

Posted at 10:07 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-02 01:08:21-04

On Monday the Arizona Department of Education released its recommendations on reopening schools.

Dozens of pages, detailing what districts and charters should consider as they make critical decisions regarding the upcoming school year.

"It's meant to be very adaptable, and that's really a key word," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

The "Roadmap to Reopening Schools" lays out four possible scenarios.

  • All students in physical buildings
  • All students distance learning
  • A hybrid of the two
  • Intermittent distance learning (in the case of an emergency closure)

"I would say by and large a lot of (districts) are very interested in having more of a hybrid model," said Hoffman. "They do want there to be options for their families."

Many of the recommendations for health and safety are from the CDC, suggesting measures like:

  • Health screenings and temperature checks
  • Increased hand washing and sanitization
  • Special seating on school buses
  • Smaller class sizes
  • Physical barriers
  • Cloth face masks when physical distancing is not possible

We asked the superintendent at what point these distancing or safety measures, start to impact the emotional and social well-being of children.

"I do have concerns about what this would look like," Hoffman said. " Just making sure we're really aware of that, really thoughtful and really ask ourselves, you know, what are the pros and cons, and the benefits and risks of how far we go with mitigation strategies."

However, putting these strategies in place could hit district budgets hard, especially as concerns mount over drops in state funding if parents choose to keep their kids home.

"I have some optimism," said Hoffman. "I have had very encouraging conversations with legislators from all backgrounds, from across the state, of how can we have budget stability for our schools going forward."

The Department of Education will release several webinars to help schools implement some of these recommendations. Hoffman also stressed transparency and communication as many districts are surveying parents right now, to get their thoughts on the next school year.

Click here for a look at the full guidance.