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Arizona governor OKs bill giving closed schools flexibility

March 27, 2020 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Friday signed legislation that will give the state’s K-12 schools added flexibility to deal with shutdowns caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The measure signed by the Republican governor relaxes rules requiring a minimum number of school days and mandatory testing. Schools are required to switch to online-only instruction or other alternatives after the end of the month and teachers and support staff can work remotely and won’t lose pay.

A series of other requirements are waived, as are penalties for not meeting school letter grade requirements. Schools are allowed to spend extra money on summer school and use their buses to deliver meals or assignments to students.

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Ducey on March 15 ordered all K-12 public and private schools closed until the end of the month amid the virus outbreak. He later extended that order until April 10.

“During this unprecedented time, parents and educators need certainty so they can plan and make decisions — and this bill provides it,” Ducey said in a statement. “It protects our teachers and prioritizes our students, ensuring kids continue to receive instruction even with schools closed.”

The measure was designed by Republican Sen. Sylvia Allen and GOP Rep. Michelle Udall after discussions with state schools chief Kathy Hoffman, a Democrat.

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.