At the urging of Superintendent Hoffman, the governor signed Executive Order #51 last Thursday outlining a process to make better decisions about whether and how to set in-person instruction start dates. For the last several days, we, the Superintendent, teachers, and others have been advocating for a more evidence-based process to set school start dates. Our advocacy worked!

Prior to last Thursday, the governor had been setting proposed in-person instruction dates- but there had been no objective evidence-based criteria associated with those dates.

Last Thursday’s Order also requires face coverings for students over 5 years old when in-person services or instruction begins. There are exceptions for some students and during playground time when outside distancing is happening.

The Order requires the ADHS to develop public health benchmarks that school districts may use to inform their in-person instruction dates. The deadline for developing the criteria is August 7.

While the Order itself doesn’t mention how or whether the county health departments will be involved in setting the criteria, Superintendent Hoffman mentioned the importance of involving the county health departments- which is super-important as they are the public health retailers in Arizona.

While we still need to see what the criteria will be- this is certainly a victory for evidence-based public health policy and the students, parents and educators of Arizona.