It is official.

Children and educators will not be attending school in person for the rest of the school year.

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In a joint statement released by Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Instruction Kathy Hoffman, they wrote:

“In alignment with yesterday’s updated federal guidance, today we are announcing the extension of school closures through the remainder of the school year. Today’s announcement is intended to give parents and educators as much certainty as possible so they can plan and make decisions. While this isn’t the outcome any of us wanted, we are grateful for the partnership of schools around the state, who have stepped up to offer virtual and take-home learning opportunities for our students. These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures. We also thank our legislative partners for passing legislation ensuring all educators and staff see no disruption in pay. Our number one priority will continue to be health and safety, and we will continue to work closely with public health officials to make the best decisions for kids, families, and our school communities.”

Recent legislation passed by the Arizona State Legislature (HB2910) to address this eventuality will allow for:

  • Educators and school staff to continue to get paid.
  • The suspension of annual school testing and the awarding of school grades for this year.
  • Adjustments in school days, delivery of virtual instruction, special education and 504 accommodations, and graduation requirements.

Richie Taylor, the Communications Director for the Arizona Department of Education, responded to several followup questions on the recent announcement.

The questions and his responses are below.

1) Special Education: Have the districts notified the department how they will attempt to meet the needs of children with I.E.P.’S and 504’s? 

“We are providing guidance from the US Department of Education and our Exceptional Student Services Division to help districts meet the needs of children with disabilities. In instances where accommodations cannot be made, compensatory services (services at a later date) are an option so students with disabilities get the individual instruction they are required to receive.”

 

2) Virtual Fourth Quarter Instruction: Have the districts notified the department how they will attempt to meet the virtual instructional needs of the students for the fourth quarter to ensure promotion and graduation. 

“This is still a work in progress, HB2910 was just signed late last week. Districts will be working to provide this after the State Board of Education sets guidelines on how school districts will be required to report this. Graduation requirements will also be discussed at tomorrow’s State Board of Education meeting.”

 

3) Summer School Option: Is a form of that still on the table?

“Yes, if it is safe for schools to offer summer school that would still be on the table.”

 

4) Free and Reduced Breakfast and Lunch: Will services continue to be provided?

“Schools are currently operating on their summer food service delivery schedule. This new announcement does not affect meal services.”

The meeting of the State Board of Education will be tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Please click here to view the agenda.

Governor Ducey and Superintendent Hoffman should be applauded for taking these proactive steps to protect children and educators.

This is what public service is supposed to be about.

Hopefully, the Governor will continue to read the scientific data, listen to the experts, and make prudent decisions to protect the safety of Arizona’s citizens.

 

 

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