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Arizona rally favors reopening schools to in-person learning

August 11, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — A rally in suppot of reopening Arizona schools for in-person learning amid the coronavirus pandemic drew hundreds of people to the state Capitol.

Parents and others at the Monday evening rally, many wearing green, demanded a green light to have students return to school, KNXV-TV reported.

“We need to have a choice,” said Brittny Smith, who has four children in Mesa Unified School District.

People voiced concerns over social-emotional wellness and families who need critical support services. They also cited the state’s guidance to schools, which cites “little evidence of efficient transmission in school settings” and says “special attention should be given to prevent staff-to-staff transmission.”

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“It’s not just because I want somewhere for my kids to go so I can get other errands done,” said Rachelle Liddle.

State health officials last week released benchmarks to help guide school districts as they decide how and when to offer in-person instruction.

Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, on Friday said conditions are improving but for now haven’t reached a point where schools can reopen safely for in-person learning. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman said school officials should adhere to the guidelines and be held accountable by the public.

Under the guidelines, no county in the state could safely reopen schools right now. Many people at the rally said the metrics in the guidelines are not realistic.

“I would say nobody cares about their kids more than parents,” Smith said. “Nobody wants to put anybody at risk here, but we also have to think about the whole health of the child.”

Similar rallies were planned Tuesday in the Gilbert, Mesa and Queen Creek school districts.

In other developments:

— Arizona State University officials said students and employees will be required to complete a new daily questionnaire on COVID-19 symptoms beginning Monday.

The questionnaire can be completed via computer or phone, and online students are exempt if they are not going to any university facility, according to the email sent Monday by Executive Vice Presidents Mark Searle and Morgan Olsen.

“Failure to complete the daily health check may result in loss of access to ASU systems until the health check is completed,” Searle and Olsen said in an email.

— The state Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 1,213 additional confirmed COVID-19 cases with 45 additional deaths. The reports increased the state’s confirmed cases to 188,737 and its death toll to 4,199.

Continuing a trend since early July, the 7-day rolling average of daily new cases dropped over the past two weeks from 2,663 new cases a day on July 27 to 1,147 new cases a day on Monday.

The 7-day rolling average of daily deaths also dropped, going from 87 deaths per day on July 27 to 54 deaths a day on Monday.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.

___ Associated Press reporter Paul Davenport in Phoenix contributed.