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State officials urge more transparency in COVID-19 reporting at schools

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TUCSON (KVOA) - As COVID-19 cases continue to pop up, educators in the Old Pueblo and all throughout the state are required to report any outbreaks to county health officials.  

However, the Arizona Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman has made it known publicly that she wants to go a step further and make sure schools are also informing students and parents.

"It makes me feel relief," said Sunnyside High School senior Alma Valenzuela, who says she was happy to see the message from Hoffman.

"With the genuine fear about COVID-19 present in our communities, transparency is key to maintaining trust with our educators, students, and families. I have heard from many individuals that they are alarmed to hear about positive cases in their schools through the grapevine. And while we can't control every rumor that goes through a school, we - as school leaders - should prioritize consistent and transparent communication. " 

"I don't want to put my mom at risk of catching COVID or father at risk since they are older and they do have compromised immune systems," said Valenzuela.

Dustin Williams, Pima County Schools Superintendent, said: "Letting the community know when somebody has a COVID-related issue, it's okay, we just want to be there to help."   

Williams said that means encouraging schools to keep parents informed on coronavirus cases.

"It can either be mailed. It can be emailed, it can be a robocall, anyway the school feels they can get in touch with parents in a timely manner," said Williams.   

The state superintendent's email included a link to the procedures she hopes schools take when communicating COVID-19 issues with the public. Click here for the procedures.

Hoffman said, "Having detailed communications protocols in place - and making them publicly available - can help provide some level of certainty in these very uncertain times. I encourage all school leaders to utilize the Roadmap for Reopening Schools,  particularly the sections on communication procedures and emergency preparedness, to ensure that the communities we serve feel confident in our ability to be focused on transparency and safety."

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Paul Cicala

Paul Cicala is a 2-time winner of the prestigious”Edward R. Murrow Award” for his reporting/anchoring in news & sports. Paul Cicala has also been nominated for multiple EMMY’s. Cicala has won the “Best Sportscaster” category in Tucson the last five years (voted on by readers of “Tucson Weekly”). Cicala is a native Tucsonan who specialized in border stories during his earlier career as a news reporter in this market, and now concentrates mainly on sports stories (with an occasional special report and/or feature story on life in Tucson & the Sonoran Desert).

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