Arizona Department of Education releases guidelines for reopening schools

The Arizona Department of Education has released its recommendations for the upcoming school year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to its "Roadmap for Reopening Schools," the department says it is presenting "strategies and considerations" to public and private schools, as well as local educational agencies, to prepare for the 2020-21 school year.

The department covers four possible scenarios for reopening schools in the fall:

  • Option One -- All students attend classes in person
  • Option Two -- Some students in class at the start of the year, while others take part in distance learning.
  • Option Three -- All students start with distance learning, with the goal of eventually returning to the classroom
  • Option Four -- Intermittent distance learning throughout the year.

Other suggestions include temperature checks, smaller class sizes, socially distanced desks, staggered start times, and maybe even kids in masks.

"I used to be a preschool teacher, and so I know the realities, and I think that there’s always gonna be some risk involved with having kids and teachers and classrooms," said Superintendent for Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman.

As each district is dealing with its own, specific set of circumstances and COVID-19 cases, districts are not required to follow the suggestions.

"What we need to do is be very thoughtful of the most vulnerable populations," said Superintendent for Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman. "Thinking about our kids, medically fragile, or even our staff and teachers as well who might have health conditions."

Teachers will keep an eye out for illness or emotional trauma, as well as making plans for a possible outbreak.

Last week, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey announced schools would resume in the fall, and summer schools and day camps could resume in the summer.

In order to protect yourself from a possible infection, the CDC recommends: 

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MAP: Worldwide interactive Coronavirus case data

MAP: Arizona Coronavirus cases by zip code


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Symptoms for coronavirus COVID-19 include fever, coughing, and shortness of breath. These, of course, are similar to the common cold and flu. 

Expect a common cold to start out with a sore or scratchy throat, cough, runny and/or stuffy nose. Flu symptoms are more intense and usually come on suddenly, and can include a high fever. 

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear more slowly. They usually include fever, a dry cough, and noticeable shortness of breath, according to the World Health Organization. A minority of cases develop pneumonia, and the disease is especially worrisome for the elderly and those with other medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, or heart conditions.

RELATED: Is it the flu, a cold or COVID-19? Different viruses present similar symptoms

Right now there's one big difference between flu and coronavirus: A vaccine exists to help prevent the flu and it's not too late to get it. It won't protect you from catching the coronavirus, but may put you in a better position to fight it.

To protect yourself, wash your hands well and often, keep them away from your face, and avoid crowds and standing close to people.

And if you do find yourself showing any of these flu or coronavirus symptoms - don't go straight to your doctor's office. That just risks making more people sick, officials urge. Call ahead, and ask if you need to be seen and where.