Arizona Schools Superintendent Weighs In On Fall Reopening, Graduations

By Scott Bourque
Published: Sunday, April 26, 2020 - 1:14pm
Updated: Monday, April 27, 2020 - 6:01pm

Arizona’s schools have been closed since March, and a lot is still unknown about whether or not public health measures will be enough for schools to safely reopen in the fall. 

Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman appeared on "Arizona Horizon" to discuss what the next several months might look like for Arizona’s schools. Summer classes will still be online for most schools and districts. But fall classes, which usually start in August, would require additional planning and testing capacity.

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“What types of equipment do we need, do we need testing in our schools, do our schools have enough thermometers so they can check temperatures for students and staff?” she said. "We have school districts that start the school year in mid-July. So the next school year is really right around the corner, and we are already discussing what that could look like."

Even if schools follow social distancing guidelines and expand testing capacity in the fall, another coronavirus outbreak could possibly lead to localized closures — something Hoffman says would go smoother the second time around. 

Doug Ducey and Kathy Hoffman
Arizona Governor's Office
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent Kathy Hoffman posted a video regrading school closures on March 15, 2020.

"I think a lot of lessons have been learned, and I think the transition would be a little smoother, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t come without significant challenges,” she said. "But there could be situations in different communities where the risk is very low, and we could have safety precautions in place and different guidelines to make sure we're taking every precaution possible to protect the well-being of everyone."

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High school graduations for the class of 2020 have been in limbo for over a month as schools are closed and Gov. Doug Ducey's stay-at-home order restricts gatherings and groups. Hoffman said district officials she’s spoken with have differing plans — but most of them involve seniors being able to walk across the stage, even if it’s later than normal.

"Many of them are planning to postpone the graduation ceremony, so whether that might be this summer or even later in the year because they really feel it’s important to have that in-person celebration," she said. "Other school districts have mentioned that they’re thinking through virtual options or videos."

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