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Ash Fork Schools Close Temporarily After COVID-19 Outbreak


An outbreak of COVID-19 cases prompted a temporary closure of in-person learning at the Ash Fork Unified School District. The district initially reported two positive cases among staff members before announcing a rise in infected students and staff. In a video update, Superintendent Seth Staples says the entire campus was closed several days this week for public health precautions; some students are slated to return next week for a phased-in reopening process beginning with elementary and middle school students. The superintendent encouraged district students, staff and families to monitor symptoms and says rapid testing will be available on campus this year for individuals with symptoms. Staples noted that school districts cannot mandate masks due to a recently passed Ariz. legislation. However, the superintendent says the district still recommends them for students and staff.

Meanwhile, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman penned a letter this week to school personnel urging them to follow recently revised CDC guidelines for all people to wear face coverings within school buildings, including fully vaccinated individuals. Hoffman pointed out that students under 12 remain ineligible to receive the vaccine, creating additional risk for community spread. 

A previous version of this story stated that Gov. Doug Ducey issued an executive order banning mask mandates in schools. The article has been corrected to reflect that state legislation was passed banning mask mandates in public schools.