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Some Arizona Schools Reopening As Child Care Centers

Arizona schools closed due to the coronavirus may soon reopen as day care centers for the children of people with jobs deemed critical during the pandemic.

Gov. Doug Ducey and state Superintendent Kathy Hoffman announced that some school districts will identify existing facilities, like elementary schools or preschools, that can be used as “Arizona Enrichment Centers” starting next week.

Those facilities will be available Monday through Friday to the children of first responders, critical health care workers and essential public sector employees, like child safety workers.

Schools statewide have been shut down since March 16, and will remain shuttered until at least April 10.

“The intention here is that we know that our healthcare workers and first responders and other critical staff people, that they continue to need child care during this emergency period,” Hoffman said. “And so, we are coordinating with the school districts. Some districts have already been offering child care during this time, and others are willing to step up and offer it during this critical time.”

Hoffman added that the enrichment centers won’t operate like schools normally would.

“It won't look the same as a normal school day. It's not like we'll have educators in every classroom or open every single classroom in the school for students or children," Hoffman said. ”It's up to the districts what room or what building they would like to offer for the Student Enrichment Centers… So it could look very different from district to district.”

Districts will rely on volunteers to staff the child care centers. That includes school staff, but also members of the public, who will be subject to background checks.

And all those that enter a child care center — staff and children — will have their temperature taken daily. Anyone with a fever won’t be allowed inside.

State officials said more details about which school districts are participating, and the age range of children that will be allowed into the child care centers, will be announced in the coming days.

→  Read The Latest News On The Coronavirus Disease 

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.