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Gov. Ducey passes decision to resume in-person learning to local leaders; extends closure of bars, gyms and theaters

PHOENIX (KVOA) - Gov. Doug Ducey laid out a plan for how schools should approach the upcoming school year and extended the closure of bars, indoor gyms, fitness centers, fitness clubs, movie theaters, water parks and tubing during Thursday's COVID-19 press conference.

Heading into Thursday's press conference, Arizona Department Health Services reported 2,335 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the overall Thursday 52,944 confirmed cases. Of those cases, 3,063 have died.

Back on June 29, the governor made an executive order that shut down bars, indoor gyms, fitness centers, fitness clubs, movie theaters, water parks and tubing that was set to initially expire July 27. In that order, the governor also delayed the start of in-person classes to Aug. 17.

Prior to that order, Ducey allowed local governments to craft their own policies for face mask and coverings requirements for their communities. Cities, towns and counties quickly crafted their own mandates, including Pima County and the City of Tucson.

Plan For Reopening Schools

With several educators, students and parents holding protests with hopes of urging the governor to push back the start date for in-person classes, Ducey outlined the state's guidelines for reopening schools starting Aug. 17.

During Thursday's press conference, the governor announced that he will pass the decision of when school would like to resume in-person instruction to local officials and district leaders.

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According to Ducey, ADHS will release public health benchmarks to local districts and charter schools on Aug. 7. These benchmarks will be used for the school leaders to determine whether or not they should open classrooms for in-person learning.

However, schools will be required to have 180 days of instruction, or equivalent hours required, for the upcoming school year.

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Under the governor's guidelines, schools are advised to begin online learning by the start of their regular school year. In addition, these schools must be able to provide a place where students can go in-person by Aug. 17. The governor made this decision to give students a place to learn in case their parents need to go to work or do not have access to a computer or the internet.

Schools will also be required to provide a means for social distancing in the classroom.

Ducey also shared that kindergarten through 12th-grade education will receive an additional $370 million in CARES Act amid the COVID-19 pandamic.

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Extension of Closure of Bars, Gyms and Movie Theaters

During Thursday's press conference, the governor extended his executive order he made on June 29.

The initial executive order defined bars as any entity that holds a "series 6 or 7 liquor license from the Department of Liquor Licenses and control and whose primary business is the sale or dispensing of alcoholic beverages."

The order states that bars can offer pick-up, delivery and drive-thru services through a series 12 liquor license.

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In Thursday's announcement, the governor did not set an end date for this extension.

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Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.

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