Ducey’s Back To School Order Likely To Send Few Back To Classrooms

Governor Doug Ducey [Photo via Youtube]

On Wednesday, following the orders by the governors of Texas and Arkansas to open up their states, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey took a step toward fully opening the state by issuing a new Executive Order returning schools to in-person, teacher-led instruction.

The carefully crafted order exempts middle and high schools located in counties with “high” transmission of COVID-19, as defined by the CDC ⁠— which currently includes just three Arizona counties: Coconino, Yavapai, and Pinal are exempt from the order.

The Order makes clear that students “may continue participating in virtual instruction if their parent or guardian chooses so.”

Most schools do offer some very limited in-person learning so the Order does virtually nothing to change the status quo, that is according to school officials across the state.

Flowing Wells Unified School District Superintendent Dr. David Baker acted quickly to advise parents that the governor’s order “supports the continuation of our current remote learning models. That current model keeps many of the District’s students out of the classroom much of the day.

“Governor Ducey seemed pretty clear in his Executive Order,” said one Flowing Wells mother. “Schools need to bring back in person classes for students. Many students, including my kindergartener and 4th grader, are suffering. They want to be with their friends, they want to connect with their teachers, and they want to understand what they are learning. To get a letter that the Flowing Wells School District is looking for clarity in regards to hybrid learning but saying that they can keep remote learning makes no sense to me. It’s time to stop ignoring what science is saying just because we want to be lazy. It’s not fair to our children. As a parent it hurts me to see my children so distraught and frankly I’m done with the overreacting.”

Despite the fact that classrooms are largely closed to kids, Arizona schools have been given over $1 billion in CARES Act ESSER and ESSER II funding. Flowing Wells is among the top fifty ESSER funded districts:

DISTRICT (LEA) NAME Total ESSER Fund Allocation
Tucson Unified District $18,558,099.29
Mesa Unified District $17,062,873.58
Phoenix Union High School District $11,993,688.79
Cartwright Elementary District $7,999,141.31
Washington Elementary School District $7,318,952.59
Alhambra Elementary District $6,507,560.37
Sunnyside Unified District $5,721,902.88
Glendale Elementary District $4,804,642.37
Roosevelt Elementary District $4,701,263.40
Paradise Valley Unified District $4,513,659.06
Phoenix Elementary District $4,420,353.51
Peoria Unified School District $4,230,397.55
Glendale Union High School District $4,163,991.22
Dysart Unified District $3,914,351.21
Isaac Elementary District $3,839,593.72
Deer Valley Unified District $3,656,154.10
Creighton Elementary District $3,317,717.18
Chandler Unified District #80 $3,276,351.66
Amphitheater Unified District $3,173,678.01
Tempe School District $2,599,800.98
Yuma Union High School District $2,556,671.32
Gilbert Unified District $2,361,129.01
Chinle Unified District $2,311,140.03
Pendergast Elementary District $2,051,218.76
Scottsdale Unified District $2,039,036.15
Yuma Elementary District $1,987,817.13
Academy of Mathematics and Science South, Inc. $1,936,851.39
Douglas Unified District $1,912,733.71
Nogales Unified District $1,864,660.69
Tolleson Union High School District $1,839,218.99
Casa Grande Elementary District $1,718,113.97
Balsz Elementary District $1,649,049.88
Kingman Unified School District $1,643,832.54
Fowler Elementary District $1,634,421.24
Florence Unified School District $1,591,119.78
Flagstaff Unified District $1,571,344.58
Sierra Vista Unified District $1,446,034.29
Whiteriver Unified District $1,320,524.94
Gadsden Elementary District $1,305,353.14
Coolidge Unified District $1,301,824.05
Apache Junction Unified District $1,289,942.00
Flowing Wells Unified District $1,261,038.47
Osborn Elementary District $1,249,531.15
Crane Elementary District $1,195,318.52
Kayenta Unified District $1,189,663.56
Murphy Elementary District $1,169,915.43
Humboldt Unified District $1,166,388.53
Marana Unified District $1,151,547.40
Avondale Elementary District $1,149,022.62
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According to the Governor’s Office, the “metrics developed by the CDC, 12 of Arizona’s 15 counties are in phases where all schools are safe to open, including in the state’s two largest counties, Maricopa and Pima.”

This week, the Arizona Department of Education released a report showing a dramatic decrease in public school enrollments compared to last year. Public school enrollment is down by approximately 38,000 students for the 2020-2021 school year compared to last year.