(The Center Square) – The Arizona Department of Education has released its guidelines for reopening schools for the 2020-2021 school year.
Schools have been closed since March 15 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Per Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Instruction Kathy Hoffman, schools will be able to reopen in the fall of 2020. A 41-page document details guidelines.
"Kim Wright and Superintendent Hoffman did a remarkable job gathering a team, including stakeholders, and providing a well-informed document in a remarkably short period of time," Wes Brownfield, executive director of Arizona Rural Schools Association, told The Center Square. "This document provides great guidance regarding practical guidance, informed choices, and allowing for the maximum amount of local flexibility. It develops a good framework for the conversations districts must have as they decide how to re-open this fall."
Some of the reopening guidelines include students being screened by staff members dressed in appropriate PPE before entering the building, social distancing measures and physical barriers or guides, smaller class sizes, no communal dining halls, cloth face coverings and no shared objects. Students and staff who feel ill will be encouraged to stay home.
There are also requirements to keep the school a healthy environment, including cleaning and disinfecting classrooms, ensuring proper ventilation, cleaning water systems regularly and having staff trained on safety protocols.
“It will look different. It will feel different. But the idea is that kids will have a more traditional, routine school day where possible and safe,” Ducey said according to AZFamily.com.
"Every educator I have spoken with appreciates the plan and the effort going into it," Brownfield said. "Their concern now is how their districts will use it to inform implementation. Teachers would like to see districts required to involve them at all levels of planning, which depending upon the district may or may not happen. Administration is hoping parents will be understanding as districts manage all the uncertainty of re-opening this fall."