PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona health officials said they have changed their recommendations for when schools should switch back to virtual learning.
In a statement to Arizona's Family, the Arizona Department of Health Services said it updated its recommendations last week. The department said if one of the three benchmarks moves to "substantial," or red, for two weeks, the districts are told they should start discussing a possible move from hybrid to virtual learning. If all three benchmarks go into the red for two weeks, the ADHS recommends moving from hybrid to virtual learning. The three benchmarks are COVID-19 cases per 100,000, positivity percentage and COVID-like illness percentage. To have traditional learning in classrooms, ADHS encourages all three benchmarks to be in the minimal, or green, category. The department sent out the original recommendations back in August.
Of course, they are just recommendations and school districts across the state are free to set their own criteria about when to go back to virtual learning.
Coronavirus cases have steadily increased in the last couple of weeks. The daily average of new cases went from 711 on Oct. 12 to 1,010 on Monday while the positivity rate, which measures community spread, rose from 7% to 9.4%. The average of daily deaths dropped from 7.4 to 6.4. Hospitalizations recently have ticked up to levels last seen in late August when Arizona was a national virus hotspot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.