O’Halleran Discusses Pandemic Effects on Education in Arizona During Tele-Town Hall

July 15, 2020
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK – Last night, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) hosted a telephone town hall to hear directly from families across Arizona’s First Congressional District about the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic has affected K-12 education in Arizona. He was joined by Joe Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association, and over 2,100 Arizonans concerned about education.

“Last night, I heard directly from Arizona families about the concerns they have for their children, their students, and hardworking educators in their lives,” said O’Halleran. “I would love to see our schools reopen this fall, but my first priority is the health and safety of the children in our district. We need to have meaningful public health protocols in place as schools plan their schedules and operations this fall.

“Already, there is a growing shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the nation, in both our hospitals and for the general public, and our schools aren’t even open yet,” continued O’Halleran. “We must have testing and tracing operations dedicated solely to our schools, and ensure labs can turn these results around more quickly, for the safety of our children. All of this must be done in a mindful way where backup plans are in place, and we are able to maintain at least a three month supply of necessary PPE. We must also consider how regular sickness like flu season will complicate this pandemic and affect young students this year. I am working with my colleagues in Congress and educators, school employees, and families on the ground in Arizona—like Joe—to ensure that our students are attending school in the safest manner possible this fall.”

“I want to thank Congressman O’Halleran for hosting this town hall to discuss such an important issue with Arizonans who are affected directly,” said Thomas, President of the Arizona Education Association. “I am grateful for O’Halleran’s commitment to improving the accessibility and quality of education in our state, especially now, as COVID-19 has created new challenges for our schools, educators, and students. I’m looking forward to continued work together to ensure our students are learning safely.”

During the event, O’Halleran discussed the Broadband Adoption and Opportunity Act: his legislation to leverage public-private partnerships to refurbish internet-capable devices for students and underserved families through donation, lending, or low-cost purchasing programs. O’Halleran also discussed the funding and resources he secured for Arizona students and educators within the CARES Act, the Heroes Act, and the Moving Forward Act, and the pressing need for additional federal aid for our schools.