‘I stand by universal masking’: Arizona schools chief on COVID-19, masks and test scores

Q&A with Arizona schools chief Kathy Hoffman

By Yana Kunichoff | Arizona Republic

Arizona schools chief Kathy Hoffman had high hopes for this year: in-person learning, a boost in support from federal funds and a chance for school communities to breathe after a disrupted year.

But now she’s working with the new reality: a tense and ongoing debate over school mask mandates amid an ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases in children.

As state superintendent of public instruction since 2019, most of Hoffman’s tenure in office has been overshadowed by the coronavirus crisis. But she’s still managed to push attention toward issues close to her heart: student mental health and educator retention and recruitment.

As the school year moves ahead, The Arizona Republic caught up with Hoffman:

What do you see as the biggest issues facing Arizona students going into this school year?

Answer: The biggest issue is having outbreaks in our schools that are disrupting learning, whether it is students or teachers that have to quarantine or even who are sick.

Last week you probably saw the news that a teacher died from COVID. I’m worried about the number of kids who are sick and in the hospital.

What would a successful school year look like to you?

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