Gov. Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced Sunday the closures of all public schools in the state through March 27 as a safety measure against COVID-19.
“The health and safety of all our students is our top priority,” Ducey said in the video announcement.
Hoffman said the state had heard concerns from many school administrators about staffing and possible absences.
Maricopa Unified School already had a planned two-week Spring Break during the time of the statewide closure, as did Heritage Academy. Sequoia Pathway Academy is in the middle of a two-week break.
Leading Edge Academy earlier announced a network-wide extension of Spring Break through March 23, but that will now extend through March 27. Legacy Traditional School had announced an extended Spring Break through March 20 at three campuses, which is also altered by the state decision. The LTS network had already canceled gatherings such as field trips through April 10.
“Legacy will be providing meals for in-need students during this extended break,” the charter school announced to its members. “Breakfast and lunch will be served in grab-and-go bags and will be available for pick-up from 8 to 9 a.m. for breakfast and from 12 to 1 p.m. for lunch.”
The state, too, is working to keep boxed meals available for students during the time schools are closed. It would be an early start to the summer food service program through USDA.
The state announcement included an effort to provide childcare options that may be announced later. Families are discouraged from leaving children in the care of elderly adults, a group who appear to be the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.
“We are asking schools to please adhere to the following measures during this period of closure:
* School administrators should make every effort to provide continued education learning opportunities through online resources or materials that can be sent home.
* School administrators should develop a plan to continue breakfast and lunch services for Arizona students.
* As demand rises on healthcare professionals and first responders, schools should expand child care programs currently available to ensure minimal disruption to these critical jobs as a result of the school closure.
* When school resumes, school administrators should develop and implement precautions to ensure schools are a safe learning environment, including social distancing measures, regular intervals for administrators to wash and sanitize their hands, and guidance on how to properly and frequently sanitize election equipment and common surfaces.”