In response to President Trump's tweets, Arizona schools chief urges caution when reopening schools

Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, released a statement July 7 following a July 6 tweet from President Donald Trump stating Trump's belief that "schools must open in the fall." (Community Impact staff)
Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, released a statement July 7 following a July 6 tweet from President Donald Trump stating Trump's belief that "schools must open in the fall." (Community Impact staff)

Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, released a statement July 7 following a July 6 tweet from President Donald Trump stating Trump's belief that "schools must open in the fall." (Community Impact staff)

Kathy Hoffman, state superintendent of public instruction, released a statement July 7 following a July 6 tweet from President Donald Trump stating Trump's belief that "schools must open in the fall."

"Educators, school staff, and families share the goal of reopening our schools and returning students to the classroom to ensure their physical, academic, social, and emotional needs are met," Hoffman said in the statement. "Like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC, teachers know that the best place for our students to learn is in the classroom. However, today’s discussion at the White House Summit on Safely Reopening America’s Schools did not reflect the magnitude or severity of Arizona’s growing public health crisis."

Hoffman said that in order for Arizona to reopen school facilities for in-person education, the state must first get COVID-19 under control.

“In the last two weeks, our confirmed cases doubled from 50,000 to 100,000," Hoffman said. "Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are up, and critical care services such as ventilators are at a record high use. The positivity rate in testing is between 25 percent to 30 percent—quadruple the 5 percent that experts recommend for making informed decisions about reopening. Today, Arizona has the highest infection rate per capita than any other state in the country—including New York during its April peak."

As of July 9, across Arizona, there were 108,614 COVID-19 cases and 1,963 known virus-related deaths. More than 13.5% of all diagnostic tests statewide have yielded a positive result, according to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The rising number of cases prompted Gov. Doug Ducey to sign an executive order delaying the start of the school year to Aug. 17, a date he described as "aspirational."


“And while young students may be at lower risk for infection, the educators who make learning possible—including instructional aides, librarians, bus drivers, nutrition workers, and more—are at risk, as are students with medical conditions," said Hoffman. "Those valued members of our schools need more assurances that schools and communities have the resources they need to stop the virus from spreading widely through their communities. Given Arizona’s rising case numbers and the fact that Arizona remains open, I cannot provide those assurances for the adults and students who are medically vulnerable in our school communities at this time."

Hoffman said she welcomes "more aggressive action" from Gov. Doug Ducey and the state's public health officials to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“The reality of COVID-19 in Arizona means that reopening schools will be a community effort in which we all have a role to play," Hoffman said. "Stay home, maintain physical distancing, wash your hands, and wear a mask when you are in public. It is only with statewide action and personal responsibility that we will find a pathway forward for our students and educators to return to the classroom.”

After Trump tweeted July 6 that "schools must open in the fall," the state of Florida announced it would require all schools to reopen brick-and-mortar facilities for at least five days a week.

On July 8, Trump tweeted that he disagrees with Center for Disease Control and Prevention's guidelines for reopening schools.

"I disagree with [the CDC] on their very tough & expensive guidelines for opening schools," Trump wrote. "While they want them open, they are asking schools to do very impractical things. I will be meeting with them!!!"

The president also threatened, in a separate tweet, to "cut off funding" if schools do not open.
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