Republican Gov. Doug Ducey, Ariz., was among those who defended his decision to keep kids in the classroom during the most recent variant of the COVID-19 pandemic despite heavy media criticism at the 2022 National Governors Association (NGA) meeting.
Arizona Central published an opinion piece in January suggesting Ducey had done serious harm to children by keeping schools open as omicron, a highly contagious yet reportedly less severe variant of the virus, swept the country.
"Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey won't even try to save kids from COVID-19," the headline for writer EJ Montini's piece read, with the subhead, "The rapid spread of the omicron variant, combined with the holidays, the cold weather and the re-opening of schools could be a disaster in the making." Montini argued that Ducey whiffed repeatedly on the chance to slow the spread, arguing he could have required proof of vaccination or of a COVID-free test before children or teachers are admitted back into the classroom, or impose a statewide indoor mask mandate. The author suggested Ducey should take a page out of Washington, D.C.'s strict vaccine orders, where Mayor Muriel Bowser recently enforced a city wide vaccine mandate.
Asked to respond to the criticism, Ducey provided an issue on which he said the media could have better spent its resources.
"Fifty plus years ago politicians stood in the schoolhouse door and wouldn’t let minorities in. Today unions back politicians stand in the schoolhouse door and won't let minorities out," Ducey told Fox News Digital. "They are trapped in failing schools. That’s what the media should be reporting on. But they want to report on masks, and not talk about math scores."
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, R, agreed the media's priorities were awry, and suggested what the press should have asked President Biden on the topic of education at his most recent solo press conference.
"What should be taught in schools. Is it a federal policy, or should it belong to the states?" Stitt asked, saying in his opinion it belongs to the latter.
"We are listening to the public health officials," he continued. "From the CDC on down, to the President of the United States, are saying that kids should be in a classroom, they should be inside schools. So of course the media seems to feel differently, of course the teachers unions feel differently. But in Arizona our schools are open, and they’re going to remain open."
Like his Arizonan counterpart, Stitt signed an executive order to encourage schools to stay open.
"I signed an executive order to encourage the business community and also our state employees to volunteer as substitute teachers," he told Fox News Digital at NGA. "Because there’s some real issues with people being out with omicron and so, we think it’s so important for kids to be in schools. So that was one of the things we were excited to do. To keep all our schools open across Oklahoma."
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, R., recently addressed the issue of how to handle schooling during COVID in her State of the State. In a follow-up for Fox News Digital, she echoed Stitt in sharing her concern for children's future.
"Nothing replaces in-person learning, plain and simple," Ivey said in a statement to Fox News Digital. "We are at a point where we have to learn to live with this virus, and here in Alabama, we are taking that approach and moving on with our lives. The consequences would be too devastating if we don’t, not just today, but in the future. We have the tools at our hands to treat the virus. We have directed necessary resources toward our schools so that they have what they need to have kids and teachers in the building. If those on the left push virtual learning, they are letting special interests and politics interfere with the lives of our students, and there is simply no excuse for that."