Pima County is suggesting that school districts not resume in-person learning until after Sept. 6, according to a county memo.
The guidance was released Tuesday by County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry to all county superintendents. It comes after Gov. Doug Ducey’s latest order July 23 that stated county health departments would determine data-based metrics to guide districts in resuming in-person education.
Ducey's order required that districts have on-site spaces open by Aug. 17 for at-risk youths who need somewhere safe to go during the day and the county’s guidance would not prevent districts from having facilities open for at-risk youth on a limited basis.
Districts will also be able to apply for a waiver on this requirement to the state if it is deemed necessary to shut an entire school down due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The county has also advised that fall sports should be shifted to the spring.
The county pointed to a number of reasons it was not yet safe for in-person learning to begin:
•Case numbers are at the highest daily amounts this month since the pandemic began.
•The World Health Organization recommended countywide transmission rates be below 5 percent before reopening and Pima County’s transmission rate is currently over 11 percent.
•Because a mask mandate was only made by the county on June 19, they still need more time to evaluate its effectiveness.
•Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are still at record levels and wide spread testing only became available in the community recently.
•Test results are still coming in too slowly to have effective contact tracing procedures.
The county’s metric for determining when districts would be safe to reopen is its Pima County Progress Report. It consists of nine public health metrics. As of July 21, six metrics were red (criteria not met), three were yellow (progress) and zero were green (criteria met).
The county will utilize its regional testing sites for district staff, students and families who show COVID-19 symptoms. The county is also creating a subcommittee of superintendents and principals to develop standards for managing COVID-19 and school activities.