As the question of whether Arizona’s public schools will reopen before the scheduled date of summer break hangs in the air, administrators now know they will not have to extend the academic year.
Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation Friday that ensures school will not have to make up for days lost due to statewide closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this unprecedented time, parents and educators need certainty so they can plan and make decisions—and this bill provides it,” said Ducey in a statement. “It protects our teachers and prioritizes our students, ensuring kids continue to receive instruction even with schools closed.”
House Bill 2910, introduced by State Rep. Michelle Udall (R-Mesa), also requires public schools to begin offering education via “alternative formats” while the schools are closed. Ducey has ordered them shuttered at least through April 10.
If the closure lasts through the end of the academic year, the new law requires schools to provide instruction until summer break is scheduled to begin. If the closure ends before that time, schools have the option to either resume physical operations or stick with technology-based distance learning.
The bill also moves the testing window for statewide assessments back to May 31.
School transportation fleets, including school buses, may be used to perform school operations “that are deemed to support students and their families during the statewide closure as determined by the public school.”
Teachers are expected to continue providing education during the closure, with both salaried and hourly employees now guaranteed their pay.
HB 2910 also allows for schools to reassign employees whose work cannot be done remotely, and eases statutory requirements for the delivery of special education as long as a school can ensure “to the greatest extent possible” that students covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act receive special education services and access to alternative modes of teaching.
“This is what coming together to support our kids and families looks like, and Arizona is again leading the way,” Ducey said.