Arizona, Mike Broom, Cathy Hoffman discussed on Mike Broomhead


I'm Jeff Mon on Arizona's news station K T a R news. Mike Broom head show on K T A R news 92 3 FM and the K T A R news app. Thanks for joining me this morning. It is the mic broom head show. Yesterday, the State of Education address delivered by the superintendent of public schools, Cathy Hoffman, She joins us now, Miss Hoffman. What is the big in your mind? What is the biggest hurdle in getting kids back in the classroom across the state of Arizona? Good morning, Mike. I would say our biggest hurdle continues to be the high community spread of Koga 19 in our communities. And of course, I'm very happy to see that the numbers are trending downward, and we're seeing more and more people get vaccinated. According to our school benchmarks, Every single county in Arizona is still in the red, and that's it. That's our biggest hurdle. We have to continue to take those seriously to work together as a community to do everything we can to get to a place where all schools can open safely. There are schools in Arizona right here in the Valley. Now as we speak that have been open and have been managing cases of covert 19 very well in offering. For the students and the teachers that want to be in the classroom. That option in those individual district's. Why is that? Not an option in every district? I think local context is really important in these types of situations, so I am glad that some schools have been able to manage and open and safely provide education in schools. I know in some parts of his Phoenix as well as in other parts of the state. Local context means where our families have multi generational homes where there's a lack of access to health care or families that don't even have health insurance. So For them the fear of getting sick, even if it's a more mild case brings a lot more weight with it. And so that local context really matters. You know, I provided the example yesterday of I heard from an educator. Shared with me that just last week in Tucson, one district lost six employees to Cove it They died from Cove it just just in one week. So for that community, they have been there enduring this trauma. They're coping. Their students are feeling this trauma, so I do think that local context matters. I agree with you? Absolutely. Except in those same districts. There are teachers that are crying to be back in the classroom and feel as if their voices are not heard. They're ready to go back right now. And there are students and parents that are having to take their Children to district's and other places because their district doesn't offer that so no one has said that all teachers should be back in all students should be back. But isn't it fair that the option for the families that feels safe and for the teachers that feels safe that that option is made available to them? Why is it that not fair for them? E think that's been very challenging for our school leaders to navigate. And so when we're talking about they, especially bigger district that have hundreds to thousands of employees. It's been a challenge for them to to plan for that, too, To think about. Well, how many students would show up in person? How many teachers feel safe being back in the classroom? I know we do have district Where teachers are teaching in the classroom with students and they have students learning from home at the same time, and I know from talking with teachers that that has put a lot of strain on them of trying to manage their in persons have, you know thinking of if you think about a classroom and kids their behaviors and making sure they get the attention that they need, But then at the same time on your last talk, you have a couple other students that are waiting for the attention and making sure that they understand. The content of the instruction. It's not easy, and so I think that a lot of lessons have been learned. I think again. We're all aiming for the same place of make, you know, we all want our schools to be able to offer in person instruction. But I think for some district's when they see their high spread in their communities, and they feel that having in person instruction would be putting Their students and teachers at risk. You know, that's where these really difficult decisions have been made. I understand that except the teachers are in the same frontline category when it comes to vaccinations for covert 19 with police officers and other frontline workers, which I absolutely thought was. The best thing the governor could have done was get teachers vaccinated along with those frontline workers, But every other industry including Montessori schools, college education Grocery store workers. Every industry is doing the best they can to mitigate risk, but everybody in some capacity is going back to work with the exception of these districts in K through 12, But there are teachers that want to be back in the classroom right now, and students that want to be there. The governor said that that option would be made available and it's not available in every district. I don't know how that's fair. Explain how that's fair to those families that are begging for a classroom to be open. Well again. I truly do here. These parents and families that want Children have the in person option. You know another piece to consider of this. We have seen a dramatic spike in the number of Children who have contracted covert 19 and even I'm very severe cases of Children who have been diagnosed with the multi system inflammatory syndrome. So I do think that there's so many factors to be paying attention to here. And you know when we have listened to even Dr Fauci and the national guidance around A free openings. They have made it very clear that community spread has to be a consideration, and in the recent weeks, Arizona's community spread has been over 20%. So I want to get us back to the school benchmarks, which indicates, and this was developed by public health experts that getting us under 10%. Is when we can. We can truly safely and come all come together of that's that's when it's more safer for schools to be in person. But to be fair, Miss Hoffman to be fair when the benchmarks in Arizona were well below 10% in almost all three categories, and schools were safe to be open and those benchmarks across all three categories. Those schools weren't open then, and there was no pressure put on the district that didn't want to open to open the schools even then, so those benchmarks were ignored by the school district's when they were told they were safe to open, But now they want to hold those up and say that this is the reason why they're not opening. The CDC report just said that it's safest for kids in school that the spread his community spread outside of the classroom, not in the classroom that they're not getting it at school that it's being caught outside of the classroom. So if it's the safest place for kids, Mork kids in Arizona have committed suicide this year that have died from covert 19. Why are we not saying the safest place for that? His kids where we can watch and make sure the protocol is being in here too? Well, I strongly agree with the fact that our students need access to the mental health supports. That are schools have always provided. And that's why yesterday in my state of education, I called for $43 Million to expand our school safety Grant program to provide more schools with school counselors and social workers. Because I am deeply concerned about the impact that this past year has had on our students. You may recall last November I hold a press conference with Dr Chris where I I came out directly to say that I was worried. I saw that number's trending upwards again, and I said, I took that press conference is a warning to the state to say if we continue in this trend of high community spread of covert 19 in our communities..

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