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Arizona schools ordered to close for at least two weeks
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Arizona schools ordered to close for at least two weeks

COVID-19

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s declaration of a public health emergency does nothing to restrict what people can do or where they can go. The declaration is designed to give state officials more leeway and tools in dealing with the virus outbreak.

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PHOENIX — Arizona public schools will be closed for at least the next two weeks.

In an announcement Sunday, Gov. Doug Ducey and state schools chief Kathy Hoffman said they do not want schools to open on Monday to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

The closure will run through at least Friday, March 27.

That's when Ducey and Hoffman said they will reassess.

In an open letter to families and educators, the pair emphasized that the closure will address only "operational issues."

"Doing this will not stop the spread of COVID-19," they said.

"The safest place for children during this time is at home," the governor and schools chief continued. "They should not be cared for by elderly adults or those with underlying health conditions, including grandparents and other family members."

The issue of what are the options for parents who cannot stay home was only tangentially addressed.

"For families for whom that is not an option, we are coordinating with partners in the non-profit, faith-based and education communities to make available childcare options to families who need it," the open letter states. No specifics were provided.

TUSD Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo said Sunday he supports the governor and state directive to close schools while assessing how to keep people safe during the pandemic.

“The Tucson Unified School District supports and will comply with the state's call to close all of Arizona’s public schools until March 27,” Trujillo said.

TUSD is calling an emergency board meeting March 18 to discuss closing the district for at least one week following the spring break, which starts Monday.

Trujillo says the extra week of closure after spring break will give TUSD time to get a plan up and running to disinfect schools and deliver food to students in an extended closure.

Trujillo said he had been on the fence about closing schools because that meant thousands of young people would still be congregating out in the public, rather than in school.

He also was hesitant to put the district’s many employees out of work without an executive order to close.

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