PRESS RELEASE: Butler, Bolding Speak Out Against In-Person Classroom Requirement for AZ Foster Kids
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 29, 2020
PHOENIX – House Democratic Co-whip Reginald Bolding and Rep. Kelli Butler spoke out today against a reported decision by the Arizona Department of Child Safety to require all foster kids to attend school in person when schools reopen after closures due to COVID-19. This blanket order comes out ahead of expected guidelines for reopening schools – due Aug. 7. And the order does not consider individual circumstances or accommodations that schools may have made for distance learning. Bolding is the ranking Democratic member on the House Education Committee and Butler is the ranking member of the House Health & Human Services Committee.
"This is a blanket decision that doesn't take into account healthcare needs that each individual child in foster care or DCS custody may have," said Bolding, D-Phoenix. "Why should these kids be any different than any other kids when it comes to their safety? Kids shouldn’t be forced to attend class if a school is not fully opened simply because they are in the foster system. If the safest course for a particular child is distance learning, and a school is providing that option, then the state as that child's guardian must figure out a way to make that happen."
"To make this decision before Arizona has developed safety guidelines – or met them – is premature and irresponsible," said Butler, D-Paradise Valley. "The in-person option may work for many kids in the foster care system, but not all. So why have a blanket policy for them? This decision merits a much closer look at fine print in the Governor' Executive Order, which provides a significant funding incentive for schools that go back to in-person classes in the first 40 days (after the guidelines are released). That, along with the foster-care requirement, creates tremendous pressure on schools to re-open regardless of what the healthcare metrics say and what dangers COVID-19 presents to students and staff."