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Hoffman: Schools should reopen based on metrics, not dates

State schools chief Kathy Hoffman in March year with Gov. Doug Ducey announcing schools would be closed for the balance of the year. Hoffman is now providing a ``roadmap'' of issues for schools to consider when deciding how -- and if -- to reopen. (Capitol Media Services file photo by Howard Fischer)

Schools should be empowered to reopen their campuses this fall based on public health data rather than aiming for a particular date, Arizona’s top education official said Tuesday.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said she outlined her priorities to Gov. Doug Ducey, who is expected to announce the next steps for schools this week. He has previously delayed the start of the school year until Aug. 17.

Hoffman outlined several metrics she said would be helpful to school officials deciding when to welcome children back on campus. They include a downward trajectory in new confirmed COVID-19 cases, a decrease in the rate of positive test results and the widespread availability of testing with timely results.

Schools also need a guarantee of full funding for distance learning, she added.

“Like all educators, I want students back in the classroom because that’s the best place for learning and growing,” Hoffman wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “However, we cannot ask schools to make decisions that will impact the teachers’ and students’ health and safety without first providing them with the necessary public health data and funding to make safe decisions.”

Ducey and his top health official, Dr. Cara Christ, said last week that they would prefer for their own children to be in school on campus.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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