Governor Ducey Walks a Tight Rope

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The debate as to how and when to open schools weighs heavy on the mind of many Arizonans today.

Governor Ducey is under pressure to relay his plans to the communities. The angered state is now asking to “Dump Ducey.” Throughout the summer, Arizona has seen COVID-19 positivity rates that have soared above most states and the world. In July President Trump’s team indicated that they may remove federal funding from areas that go against his plans to resume in-person classes in the Fall. President Trump has since softened his stance on the issue by giving the schools in high hit areas a little extra time to start their in-person instruction.

Several weeks ago, a group of parents, school board members, and Arizona doctors held a press conference to share their desire that the Governor “follow the science.” They gave an impassioned plea for the Governor to take a stance of safety and not resume in-person classes too early. The doctors shared personal stories of losing their loved-ones to COVID-19 and they shared insight into the plight of their patients. The doctors informed that they had researched the data and they had concluded Arizona was not ready for in-person instruction to resume on August 17.

The Governor responded to their pleas by holding a press conference. The outcome of the press conference was that the state would be reassessing the situation. The Governor expressed that they would be working towards creating benchmarks for schools to reopen rather than setting a specific date. His response has been met with confusion by Arizona communities because they were left wondering why these benchmarks could not have been determined already. The doctors later countered the governor’s response by holding another press conference where they gave a conclusion to their research; they have benchmarks that they would like the Governor to follow.

Proposed benchmarks:

  • Decreasing COVID-19 positivity rate over a 28-day period
  • Five Percent positivity rate

In his press conference on July 30, 2020, Governor Ducey advised the state on many pressing issues but a conclusive decision on the reopening was not among the discussion. The governor recognized that the issues are difficult, and the response has been unpopular. Towards the end of the conference, He was pressed for the benchmarks that he is planning for the state and he referred the question to Dr. Cara Christ. Dr. Christ reassured that the answer will be data-driven. Governor Ducey reiterated that the release of school benchmarks will be released on August 7th which is after the start of the school year for many Arizona students.

At this point, parents and educators are left to wonder what direction the state will go for the fall semester. Teachers do not know what they should be planning in their syllabi and lesson plans. Parents are unsure whether they will need to be sending their children to an in-person school setting in the fall. Guidance from the state is desperately needed.

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