TUCSON, Ariz. – Today, Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03) released a statement questioning the new “Open for Learning Recovery Benefit Program” announced by Governor Ducey that redirects federal COVID relief funding but fails to institute any public health requirements to keep schools safely in-person.
“Under the Ducey administration, we have seen record high COVID-19 cases and deaths in Arizona. To prevent school closures there must be public health standards to control community spread of COVID-19 by promoting mask wearing, comprehensive and accessible testing and COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters. Unfortunately, the Governor has undermined some our best tools of protection for Arizonans and instead seems focused on dismantling public schools through threats.
This latest educational initiative is another backhanded way to penalize schools that are caught in the middle of trying to provide a healthy learning environment for our kids. I would like to know what new measures this plan will take to prevent the need for closures, and if it will provide additional support to implement public health mitigation measures to keep our students, support staff and teachers safe in the classroom.
The goal should be to keep schools in-person, not blame public schools for Arizona’s lack of action to protect students, support staff and teachers after the fact. Governor Ducey must immediately take steps to better utilize federal COVID-19 relief education funding for the way it was intended, including updates ventilation systems, robust testing programs, support students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs and address disparities in educational opportunities. Anything less is simply diverting Congressionally appropriated funds that are intended to keep Arizona schools safely open.”