/ Modified mar 12, 2021 2:34 p.m.

Schools prep for reopen, easing COVID restrictions, eviction prevention

Plus, Tucsonans share their new normal under the pandemic.

After schools initially sent students home last March after the pandemic was declared, some have remained virtual since or offered limited in-person instruction. Gov. Doug Ducey’s executive order changes that and requires them to reopen by March 15. The extent that schools do so depends on the level of transmission in their counties. Tony Paniagua spoke to superintendents from the Sunnyside and Tanque Verde school districts to learn how they’re making it work.

At the Tucson Unified School District, southern Arizona’s largest, the vast majority of its roughly 40,000 students have continued to learn from home. That was already set to change even before the governor’s order. TUSD announced in February it would bring students back starting March 24. Ducey’s order bumped up that timeline by a few days to the 22nd when the district returns from spring break. Superintendent Gabriel Trujillo discussed how his staff are preparing and what safety precautions are in place.

At the State Capitol, supporters of the governor’s push to reopen schools include Republican Sen. Paul Boyer. Boyer serves as chairman of the Education Committee and outside of the Legislature he teaches at a high school. Lorraine Rivera spoke to Boyer about what he sees as the challenges facing educators and students.

A recent executive order from Gov. Ducey lifted occupancy limits on a number of businesses including restaurants. Social distancing, masks and other CDC guidelines still apply. Throughout the pandemic, the Tucson Metro Chamber’s Restaurant Advisory Council has worked to keep the city’s local dining scene afloat. We learned more about the impact of easing capacity restrictions with chamber president Amber Smith.

The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package signed by President Biden this week puts billions toward rental and utility assistance – much needed help for the millions of Americans facing eviction. But accessing those funds can prove challenging for the people who need it most. For insight, we turned to Mackenzie Pish, program manager for the Innovation for Justice Program at the UA College of Law. The program teaches students about power imbalances in institutions.

The greater effects of the pandemic have shaped deep changes in our lives, often referred to as the new normal. We asked people in Tucson to share what that means to them.

Arizona 360
Arizona 360 airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on PBS 6 and Saturdays at 8 p.m. on PBS 6 PLUS. See more from Arizona 360.
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