Today the AzPHA and the School Nurses Organization of Arizona issued joint recommendations as benchmarks for the safe return of in-person teacher-led classroom instruction as outlined in Executive Order 51. View our Open Letter here and the text below:
July 30, 2020
Governor Douglas A. Ducey
Office of the Governor
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
Dr. Cara Christ
Director, Arizona Department of Health Services
150 N. 18th Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona, 85007
Dear Governor Ducey and Dr. Christ,
On behalf of the Arizona Public Health Association and School Nurse Organization of Arizona, we strongly recommend the postponement of in-person public education in Arizona until specific evidence-based measures are in place.
While many school districts have developed quality mitigation plans to lower the risk of spread, community transmission is currently too high to adequately protect children and staff. Testing capacity is inadequate, sample turn-around times are insufficient, contact tracers are receiving tardy data, public health laws are inadequate and unenforced, and testing and infection control in care homes needs improvement.
All the above issues are fueling community spread and need to be improved before schools open for in-person instruction this fall. There are two categories of criteria we ask you to use when making this decision:
The quality of school district mitigation plans and their ability to execute those plans with fidelity; and
Evidence-based criteria that measure community transmission.
Specifically, we recommend that you consider the following community spread measures as benchmarks for the safe return of in-person teacher-led classroom instruction as outlined in Executive Order 51:
A consistent 30-day reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases in the county as measured by a 7-day moving average;
A county percent positive rate of less than 5% for 21 days as measured by a 7-day moving average;
90% of samples returned by analytic laboratories within 72 hours of specimen collection with a transparent metric on the ADHS Dashboard; and
Community hospitals open for elective procedures.
When a community meets all these criteria, the district could be free to set a date for in-person instruction. If community transmission rebounds and the above criteria are no longer met, then districts should suspend in-person instruction.
Having measurable criteria in place to make that happen can build additional community motivation to achieve and maintain the important mitigation measures that reduce transmission of the virus.
Thank you for your consideration of our recommendation.
Aimee Sitzler, MSW
Arizona Public Health Association
Board of Directors School Nurses Organization of Arizona