Gov. Doug Ducey has extended the closure of all Arizona schools through the end of this school year.
In a joint statement Monday with Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman, Ducey wrote that the decision was made to align with guidance from the federal government.
“These efforts are crucial, and we recognize that schools are making every effort possible to continue providing instruction during closures,” they wrote in the statement.
On Friday, Ducey signed legislation to allow students to finish the school year from home.
The plan mandates that schools offer classes in an alternative format, presumably online, so students could finish out the school year from home. It also includes provisions to ensure seniors in high school graduate.
Some districts have posted online material, and teachers are reaching out to parents and students with work.
Other measures outlined in the new law:
- “Provide flexibility” to schools in delivering education to special education students.
- Allow public schools to continue to pay employees if they agree to work from home or take a reassignment, if necessary.
- Allow schools to use funding from this school year for summer school.
- Require the state Board of Education to revise graduation requirements for the 2019-2020 school year.
Will seniors still graduate?
School administrators, including Chad Geston of Phoenix Union High School District, have made statements to reassure high school seniors: Officials will do what they can to make sure those on track to graduate before coronavirus disruptions still graduate.
The legislation state lawmakers passed includes a provision that directs the Arizona State Board of Education to revise graduation requirements. The board is meeting on Tuesday to discuss revised requirements.
What about students who rely on school meals?
Ducey’s order asks schools to keep nutrition programs going, while minimizing contact to help slow the spread of coronavirus.
School districts have responded, feeding thousands of students through drive-thru meal pickups.
Will Arizona still conduct state testing?
The U.S. Department of Education announced that it would drop the federal testing mandate for public schools for this year.
Are teachers and school employees still getting paid?
Yes. The legislation allows school employees to get paid even during school closures. The bill requires educators and school employees to work remotely.
Rep. Michelle Udall, R-Mesa, who proposed the bill, said school staffers might see their jobs change, and they could even be assigned to call students and check in on school work.