Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order on Wednesday requiring schools to offer in-person learning by March 15 or by the Monday after Spring Break.
People will still have the option for virtual learning, and middle and high schools that are located in high transmission counties and that have not yet resumed in-person education will be permitted to operate virtually.
"Arizona's students need to be back in the classroom. More than half of Arizona's schools are open and offering in-person options. More schools need to follow their lead, and pave the way for equitable education options for every Arizona student," Ducey said. "The CDC and numerous health officials have said time and time again that schools are safe and kids can go back to the classroom. We prioritized teachers in our vaccine distribution, and many have already received their second dose. The science is clear: it's time all kids have the option to return to school so they can get back on track and we can close the achievement gap."
The Republican governor's order indicates that in counties with low or moderate coronavirus transmission, schools must offer in-person and virtual options. The same is the case for counties with substantial transmission, though in those counties "Middle and High Schools may reduce attendance to reduce transmission and increase physical distancing."
And in high transmission counties the order says elementary schools must offer in-person and virtual learning options, but regarding middle and high schools it states: "Middle and High Schools that are already open for in-person instruction shall remain open and strictly implement mitigation strategies. If a school has not already resumed in-person instruction, the school may operate virtually. A school may open during this phase if they implement strict mitigation strategies."