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

  • 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. 

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Ducey said the policy “must be rescinded immediately” in order for all students’ education to align with the law.

But lawyers for the two districts disagreed with the governor’s characterization and asked that his letter be rescinded.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