Public schools will reopen at the start of the school year, Governor Doug Ducey announced during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
Organized youth activities — including summer leagues, summer schools and summer day camps — can resume immediately.
Top of mind for parents, of course, is how schools will safely reopen.
Arizona Department of Health Services Director Dr. Cara Christ cautioned parents that schools are not going back to normal operations. She described a “new normal,” including continued virtual learning for at-risk children (and virtual teaching for educators at high risk), enhanced disinfecting and other safety protocols, increased hand washing and use of hand sanitizers, and physical distancing practices, including minimal mixing of classes.
School lunches likely will be held within classrooms rather than pulling many classes together in a cafeteria, she said. And there will be no school-wide assemblies.
On Monday, Arizona State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Hoffman will announce the specific state guidelines that have been created in collaboration with school leaders, teachers, parents and public health experts at the Arizona Department of Health Safety. In the days and weeks to come, individual districts and schools will follow with their own additional decisions about practices that best respond to the needs of their students and staff and address the strengths and weaknesses of their respective facilities.
Summer camps, summer school and youth activities including sports leagues are cleared to open immediately, subject to the CDC’s recommended safety guidelines.
Sporting events, for example, should limit the number of parents and spectators attending events, practic physical distancing procedures before and after games, disallow sharing drinks or snacks, step up disinfecting of equipment and more, Christ said.
Also announced Thursday: School-based childcare programs will be allowed increased capacity while working to ensure the health and safety of children around the state.