Schools to remain closed, officials discuss online graduation

By Joyce Coronel

Students in the Kyrene, Tempe Elementary and Tempe Union High School District will not be returning to school to complete the 2019-2020 academic school year.

Gov. Doug Ducey and State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced the statewide school closure following updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and a declaration from the White House extending physical distancing guidelines through April 30.

The joint statement from Ducey and Hoffman admitted the closure “wasn’t what any of us wanted” but was necessitated by their desire to safeguard the health and safety of students and staff. “We will continue to work closely with public health officials to make the best decisions for kids, families, and our school communities,” the statement reads.

A statement from Kyrene’s emergency management team acknowledged the announcement. “Kyrene School District has been preparing for the possibility of extended closures, and plans are in place to continue student learning from home for the remainder of the school year. Phase 2 of Kyrene’s distance learning program is now underway,” the statement from Kyrene says.

March 27 legislation suspends statewide testing requirement, provides funding to continue pay for employees and assures that schools will not need to extend their calendars into the summer.

“Thank you for your continued patience and support during these unprecedented times,” the Kyrene statement reads.

Megan Sterling, executive director of community relations director for TUHSD, said the district is working to find a way to mark the graduation of seniors.

“We are actually looking into alternate ways to hold graduation virtually,” Sterling said in a text message to Wrangler News.

Ducey and Hoffman’s announcement applies to both public and charter schools in Arizona.

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