Arizona Gov. tells school districts they can’t force unvaccinated students to quarantine following COVID-19 exposure

Doug Ducey Arizona governor
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey

  • Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey targeted two school districts over quarantine policies for unvaccinated students.
  • The Republican said requiring certain kids to quarantine if they’ve been exposed goes against state law.
  • But lawyers for the districts argue the policies are based on state and federal public health guidelines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey warned two school districts this week that requiring unvaccinated students to quarantine after exposure to COVID-19 is against state law.

In a letter to two superintendents on Wednesday, Ducey said the districts’ policy to mandate a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated students who come into contact with the virus goes against a state law that prohibits schools from requiring vaccines or face masks among students.

The Republican governor’s office tweeted a copy of the letter that was sent to the Catalina Foothills Unified School District No. 16 in Pima County and the Peoria Unified School District No. 11 in Maricopa County, after the districts released guidance for parents in preparation for the impending school year.

Ducey said the policy “must be rescinded immediately” in order for all students’ education to align with the law.

But lawyers for the two districts disagreed with the governor’s characterization and asked that his letter be rescinded.

In a written response obtained by KTAR News, the attorneys argue that both districts are in full compliance with the Arizona law that forbids mask and vaccine mandates, as neither district has a mask or vaccine requirement in place.

Instead, the 10-day quarantine rule for unvaccinated students comes directly from state health and federal CDC guidance.

Arizona’s health department previously issued guidance suggesting that a person who has close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days from their last exposure. The guidance notes that some individuals, including those who have been vaccinated, are eligible for shortened quarantine or no quarantine at all.

Nothing in the state’s law “restricts a school district from following guidance provided by federal, state, and local public health authorities with regard to students who have been exposed to COVID-19,” attorney John C. Richardson wrote in the response letter.

Both the Arizona Department of Education State Superintendent and the Arizona School Boards Association slammed Ducey’s letter.

“I am tired of Arizona’s public schools being a leverage point for the Governor’s political conversation on COVID-19 that growingly has nothing to do with science or public health,” State Superintendent Kathy Hoffman tweeted.

A representative for Ducey did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Students attending schools in both districts head back to the classroom in less than a month.

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1619 Project creator responds to McConnell’s effort to block its teachings in public schools: He’s saying ‘the truth is too difficult’ for America to bear

Nikole Hannah-Jones
The New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones.

  • 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones rebuts McConnell’s argument that its words are “divisive.”
  • McConnell and 38 Senate Republicans want to bar the project from being taught in public schools.
  • “He’s saying that the truth is too difficult for apparently our nation to bear,” Hannah-Jones said of McConnell.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The 1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones on Tuesday responded to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push to remove the project, which was launched on the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first African slaves to what would become the United States, from federal grant programs.

The project, which was published by The New York Times Magazine in 2019, examines the legacy of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans throughout the nation’s history, drawing the ire of conservatives who have sought to ban the body of work from being taught in schools.

In a letter to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, the Kentucky Republican and 38 members of his Senate GOP caucus outlined their opposition to the Department of Education developing updated history curricula, alleging that the content is “divisive.”

“This is a time to strengthen the teaching of civics and American history in our schools,” the letter says. “Instead, your Proposed Priorities double down on divisive, radical, and historically-dubious buzzwords and propaganda.”

The letter added: “Americans do not need or want their tax dollars diverted from promoting the principles that unite our nation toward promoting radical ideologies meant to divide us.”

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” with host Joy Reid, Hannah-Jones rebuts McConnell’s argument that the project perpetuates “a drumbeat of revisionism and negativity,” while also responding to his claim that 1619 was not one of the most important years in US history.

“I don’t know how you teach about 1865 without acknowledging that 1619 was an important year being that 1865 occurs began we began slavery in 1619,” she said, referring to the end of the Civil War in her dialogue. “So when you hear people like him saying that teaching the actual facts of American history are divisive, maybe that’s because we have a divisive history in this country.”

She added: “He’s not arguing that we shouldn’t teach the truth. He’s just saying that the truth is too difficult for apparently our nation to bear and that we’re far too fragile to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the truth.”

Read more: Here’s how Biden is reshaping gender and reproductive rights with policies that are even more progressive than past Democratic presidents

Hannah-Jones said that the legacy of slavery has been an enduring part of the nation’s history, which can’t simply be dismissed.

“The entire argument of the 1619 Project is that slavery pre-dates almost every other American institution,” she said. “That means that it is foundational and embedded in our culture.”

During a CNN appearance earlier this week, Hannah-Jones argued that the national GOP push to ban the 1619 Project in public schools “is fundamentally a free speech issue.”

“It’s not about the facts of history – it’s about trying to prohibit the teaching of ideas they don’t like,” she said.

Former President Donald Trump, who implemented a “1776 Commission” to promote “patriotic education” last year, sought to whip up conservative opposition to the 1619 Project.

Trump’s commission was quickly disbanded by President Joe Biden upon taking office, but not before they released a report saying that the history of slavery in America had been distorted.

Despite the GOP criticism, patriotism is a core theme of the opening 1619 Project essay, written by Hannah-Jones, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for the project in 2020.

In her essay, “America Wasn’t a Democracy Until Black Americans Made It One,” Hannah-Jones argued that Black Americans have been some of the most valiant fighters for American ideals.

“Despite being violently denied the freedom and justice promised to all, black Americans believed fervently in the American creed,” she wrote. “Through centuries of black resistance and protest, we have helped the country live up to its founding ideals. And not only for ourselves – black rights struggles paved the way for every other rights struggle, including women’s and gay rights, immigrant and disability rights.”

She added: “Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different – it might not be a democracy at all.”

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From cafeteria workers to principals, here’s what everyone makes in a public school

Elementary school teacher
Elementary school teachers earn a median wage of $62,050 a year.

35. Fast food and counter workers earn a median of $25,510 a year and 121,970 are employed by public schools.

school cafeteria workers preparing food

34. Institutional and cafeteria cooks earn a median of $26,130 a year and 116,220 are employed by public schools.

school cafeteria school cook

33. Childcare workers earn a median of $28,560 a year and 88,280 are employed by public schools.

preschool

32. School bus monitors and protective service workers, all other, earn a median of $29,120 a year and 58,930 are employed by public schools.

FILE - In this March 15, 2013, file photo, teacher Astrid Barrios, center, listens as Milford police detective Carlos Sousa, left, debriefs participants after a lockdown exercise at Milford High School in Milford, Mass. The actions of students who died tackling gunmen at two separate U.S. campuses a week apart have been hailed as heroic. At a growing number of schools around the country, they also reflect guidance to students who are told, at least in some situations, to do what they can to disrupt shootings. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

This is a catch-all category used by the BLS to designate protective service occupations that are not included in other occupational groups. 

31. Teacher assistants earn a median of $29,320 and 963,030 are employed by public schools.

teacher

30. Substitute teachers earn a median of $29,510 a year and 414,660 are employed by public schools.

teacher

29. Coaches and scouts earn a median of $30,890 a year and 39,440 are employed by public schools.

high school football coach

28. Education instruction and library workers, all other, earn a median of $31,410 a year and 50,940 are employed by public schools.

library

This is a catch-all category used by the BLS to designate educational occupations that are not included in other occupational groups. 

27. Janitors and cleaners earn a median of $31,950 a year and 276,360 are employed by public schools.

janitor cleaning garbage Urige Buta
Olympic marathon hopeful Urige Buta pushes a cleaning cart as he works at a high school in Haugesund, west of Oslo on March 19, 2012.

26. Office clerks earn a median of $33,330 a year and 94,600 are employed by public schools.

office worker laptop plant

25. Bus drivers earn a median of $33,900 and 189,570 are employed by public schools.

Bus driver

24. Security guards earn a median of $35,720 and 28,890 are employed by public schools.

school security guard in New York

23. First-line supervisors of food prep and serving workers earn a median of $36,440 a year and 32,890 are employed by public schools.

cafeteria

22. Secretaries and administrative assistants earn a median of $38,260 a year and 205,820 are employed by public schools.

receptionist

21. Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earn a median of $42,400 a year and 28,940 are employed by public schools.

bookkeeping accounting spreadsheet

20. Maintenance and repair workers earn a median of $44,440 a year and 53,340 are employed by public schools.

classroom repair ceiling

19. Teachers and instructors, all other, earn a median of $47,250 a year and 87,550 are employed by public schools.

teacher

This is a catch-all category used by the BLS to designate class-room occupations that are not included in other occupational groups. 

18. Computer user support specialists earn a median of $48,000 a year and 30,370 are employed by public schools.

computer teacher with students

17. Preschool teachers earn a median of $53,550 a year and 48,640 are employed by public schools.

preschool teacher with kids

16. Registered nurses earn a median of $58,810 a year and 48,800 are employed by public schools.

nurse

15. Kindergarten teachers earn a median of $59,300 a year and 101,900 are employed by public schools.

kids storytime reading teacher kindergarten students

14. Kindergarten and elementary school special education teachers earn a median of $61,090 and 170,250 are employed by public schools.

special education

13. Middle school teachers earn a median of $61,780 a year and 529,600 are employed by public schools.

middle school teacher robotics

12. Child, family, and school social workers earn a median of $61,790 a year and 39,900 are employed by public schools.

social worker

11. Middle school special education teachers earn a median of $61,980 and 74,930 are employed by public schools.

autistic child
Six-year-old Gwendoline, an autistic child, works with Professor Gilbert Lelord at Bretonneau hospital in Tours, France.

10. Elementary school teachers earn a median of $62,050 and 1,199,550 are employed by public schools.

elementary school teacher

9. High school career and technical education teachers earn a median of $62,340 and 66,140 are employed by public schools.

shop class woodworking apprentice

8. Librarians and media collections specialists earn a median of $62,690 and 42,900 are employed by public schools.

Librarian

7. High school special education teachers earn a median of $63,060 and 123,160 are employed by public schools.

Special Needs Education

6. High school teachers earn a median of $63,400 a year and 847,900 are employed by public schools.

english school teacher
English teacher Radka Tomasek speaks to the class at the English Center June 16, 2006 in Miami, Florida.

5. Educational, guidance, school, and vocational counselors earn a median of $65,840 a year and 126,500 are employed by public schools.

guidance counselor

4. Instructional coordinators earn a median of $70,210 a year and 70,420 are employed by public schools.

Teacher
In this May 13, 2010 photo, English teacher Nicholas Melvoin walks around his classroom as he teaches at Edwin Markham Middle School.

3. Speech-language pathologists earn a median of $71,120 a year and 53,960 are employed by public schools.

Speech and Language Pathologist

2. Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earn a median of $77,500 and 41,320 are employed by public schools.

child psychologist

1. Education administrators, such as principals and superintendents, earn a median of $99,690 and 214,110 are employed by public schools.

Arizona principal empty classroom

Method and data source

Public schools employ a wide variety of workers, and salaries range from well below the median wage to very high-paying.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics program offers data on employment and wages across different occupations and industries. According to that report, there were about 7.27 million Americans employed by public schools owned by local governments in May 2020, the most recent year for which data is available.

The median annual wage across all public school occupations was $49,680. The salaries for occupations with at least 25,000 employed within the sector range from $25,510 for fast food and counter workers to $99,690 for education administrators.

Teacher salaries also vary between grade levels. For instance, high school teachers earn a median wage of $63,400 a year, while middle school teachers earn a median wage of $61,780. 

For our analysis, we looked at all the occupations with at least 25,000 employees in the local-government-owned school sector in May 2020. We then ranked these occupations from lowest to highest wage. In addition to the median annual pay, the above slides also include the number of people in that job within this industry.

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Enrollment in California public schools declined by over 160,000 students amid the pandemic, new data show

California public school
Bryant Elementary School kindergarten teacher Chris Johnson sets up his classroom on April 09, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

  • New data show enrollment in California public schools for 2020-2021 declined by over 160,000.
  • The Los Angeles Times reported that it’s the largest decline in the state in 20 years.
  • In addition to California, the pandemic has also affected enrollment in Iowa and Arizona.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major drop in student enrollment in public schools, new data from the California Department of Education show.

The number of students enrolled in California’s public schools plummeted to 6,002,523 students in the 2020-2021 school year from 6,163,001 in the 2019-2020 school year. That’s a decrease of 2.6%.

Public school officials expressed concern at the steep drop, but optimism that the numbers could rebound when schools fully reopen.

“While there are many reasons to stay optimistic that enrollment will rebound as conditions improve, allowing more schools to safely return to in-person instruction, we also must help schools identify opportunities to engage with families who either sought new options for their students during the pandemic or need additional resources and support to connect with school and succeed,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond said in a press release.

Many schools across the country turned to remote learning last year, closing schools to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Since then, some schools have been slow to reopen, and others have pivoted to hybrid models. Around half of elementary schools were open for full in-person learning as of last month, according to the Associated Press.

Though student enrollment in California public schools had been declining for several years, this past year’s plunge is a much larger decrease for California public schools than in previous years. The Los Angeles Times, reported that it’s the largest drop for public school enrollment in the Golden State in two decades.

An analysis by the nonprofit organization EdSource, which focuses on California education, looked at California public school enrollment data since the 1999-2000 academic year. The nonprofit found that the last largest drop was between the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 academic year. Enrollment declined to 6,192,121 in 2009-2010 from 6,252,029 in 2008-2009 – a drop of 59,908.

The largest declines in enrollment by grade in the state occurred in kindergarten and sixth grade. The Los Angeles Times reported that the decline in kindergarten enrollment was over 60,000.

California isn’t the only state reporting a drop in enrollment as the pandemic continues. Arizona enrollment data also shows a decline by 38,000 students from 2019-2020 to 2020-2021, as reported by a local ABC News station. KCCI, a news station in Des Moines, Iowa, reported that public school enrollment in Iowa dropped by almost 6,000 students from the year before. KCCI added that this is the first decline in enrollment for the state in a decade.

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