Gov. Doug Ducey recently defended hard-and-fast limits on some businesses’ reopening while saying it’s OK for schools to send children back to class even if local health conditions do not meet the guidelines set by his own state health director.
The governor also said that unlike the restrictions on businesses, he has no interest in making those safety guidelines for schools mandatory.
“We’ve got different variations of spread throughout the state,’’ Ducey said, adding the state and most counties are “headed in the right direction.’’
Ducey’s remarks came during a week when several landlord groups sued to overturn his eviction orders, bars are awaiting a state Supreme Court hearing on their effort to overturn his indefinite closure order and a Mesa water park filed suit to do the same.
“What we wanted to do is provide a menu of options and flexibility in the guidelines so there’s safety inside our schools,’’ the governor said. But he said the “ultimate and final decisions’’ to superintendents and principals.
The guidelines released last week say that schools should consider a three-part test before offering any in-person instruction at all.
Schools are safe to open, the guidelines state, if communities have: a decline in the number of cases for at least two weeks; two weeks where positive COVID-19 tests are less than 7%; fewer than 10% of hospital visits for at least two weeks are for people with COVID-like symptoms.
As of Thursday, Maricopa and 10 other counties met two of the three benchmarks with four meeting only one.
The health department has set similar benchmarks for reopening of now-shuttered businesses. But only two counties have reached the point where spread is considered only “moderate’’ and some of these can reopen, albeit only on a limited basis.