Ducey doesn’t have the authority to order schools reopened, but he’s right that it is time

Opinion: The governor doesn’t have legal powers to order schools to fully return to in-person learning. That said, he’s right: It’s time to fully reopen schools.

By Robert Robb | Arizona Republic

My view of Gov. Doug Ducey’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic is a bit of a tangle.

On the one hand, I think he exceeded his authority by issuing executive orders limiting mobility, restricting business activity, and purportedly overriding contractual obligations to ameliorate knock-on economic consequences from the pandemic. And, ironically, I think he’s also exceeding his authority regarding opening things back up.

Related: After challenging year of online school, Phoenix teacher returns to classroom

On the other hand, I think Ducey has generally gotten the balance between being open and shut right. Arizona’s economy performed much better during the pandemic than that of most other states. And while our health care resources were severely stressed at times, they weren’t overrun.

Where he exceeded his authority in opening things back up is the order requiring most schools to return fully to in-person instruction as of March 15.

Governor has no authority over schools

The governor has no formal authority over school administration and operations. He can sign or veto legislation dealing with K-12 education. He recommends appointees to the Board of Education. In terms of formal authority, that’s it.


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