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Arizona Gov. Ducey's Order To Reopen Schools By March 15 Didn't Affect Many

Monday, March 15, is the deadline for Arizona schools to resume in person and teacher led instruction after the governor signed an  executive order earlier this month.

Coconino and Pinal County middle and high schools are exempt from the order since the areas are considered at a “high” transmission level.

As of March 11, the state health department reported that seven counties, including Maricopa, were considered at a substantial transmission rate, just one level below the level that would stop the required in-person instruction. And the remaining six were at moderate. But more than half of Arizona schools have already begun in-person instruction.

Regardless, the order allows students to continue virtual instruction if a parent makes that decision.

Ducey's order caused some school districts such as Osborn and  Cartwrightto move up their timelines. 

But since more than half of Arizona schools are offering some kind of in-person instruction, this order didn't change much for those schools. Others such as  Tempe Union High School District already had plans to reopen by March 15 or after they return from spring break before Ducey's executive order.

In Osborn's case, they were motivated to reopen for the first time since the pandemic began since the majority of the educators have been vaccinated against COVID-19, but the district had initially expected to do so at the end of month. 

But during a Feb. 24 press conference, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said schools in tribal areas such as the Navajo Nation that have been hard-hit by the virus might be as inclined to reopen just yet. Under the order, tribal schools are exempt from reopening if their community has a stay-at-home order in effect. 

Middle and high schools in counties with high levels of COVID-19 transmission are also exempt. As of Friday, this only includes Coconino and Pinal counties, according to the  Arizona Department of Health Services

→  Get The Latest News On COVID-19 In Arizona 

Rocio Hernandez was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2020 to 2022.