PHOENIX – Thirty miles southeast of Phoenix, on sacred land belonging to the Gila River Indian Community, lie the remnants of an internment camp that once housed more than 13,000 people, mostly Japanese Americans, during World War II.
Concrete foundations and cisterns remain, but gone are the fences, barracks and gun tower that revealed the purpose of the place was incarceration rather than internment, at a time when Japanese Americans were suspected of being spies and saboteurs.
“These internment camps were less like camps and more like prisons,” said Koji Lau-Ozawa, an archeology doctoral student at Stanford University whose grandparents were incarcerated there. “There’s a complicated history, but it’s important to note that.”
Gone, too, are the bases, bleachers and foul lines made of flour that represented a form of escapism for those inside the wire: baseball.
Two months after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the U.S. government issued Executive Order 9066 authorizing the incarceration of an estimated 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast. They often were given just 48 hours to sell their homes, businesses and possessions before assignment to one of 10 locations.
Schools throughout Pima County will offer free summer school programs thanks to an increase in federal funds.
Marana Unified School District expanded its free summer programs, from preschool programs to high school summer recovery programs, for June and July.
“This year, we had a tremendous opportunity to expand our programs with additional grants and Federal funding,” Assistant Superintendent Kristin Reidy said in a prepared statement. “Our teachers have really stepped up and are developing engaging activities and curriculum for students. We encourage our families to take advantage of this extended learning!”
Marana received about $4.7 million in ESSER II funds with about $1 million allocated for MUSD’s Summer Enrichment Programs, which funds staffing for teachers and support service staff across the District, as well as safety and mitigation resources, curriculum activities and resources, and professional collaboration contract hours for teachers, said district spokesperson Alli Benjamin.
PHOENIX – Beyond the physical toll of COVID-19, many are facing pandemic-related mental health challenges, including the way they view themselves and their bodies.
Stress, anxiety, depression and decreased human interaction all play a role in the development of negative body image, said Amy Lerner Wasserbauer, a clinical psychologist and counselor at Arizona State University.
“COVID has brought a lot of powerlessness and grief to people,” she said, “so stress, anxiety – all of these are emotional issues around COVID and we tend to focus on external ways of coping when we are under emotional distress.”
A recent study in the United Kingdom found that fears around COVID-19, as well as the consequences of restrictions mandated to curb the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease, could be contributing to a number of serious mental health issues – including eating disorders.
The research, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, surveyed 506 adults in the U.K., with an average age of 34.
The study found that for women, feelings of anxiety and stress caused by COVID-19 were associated with a greater desire for thinness. Among men, the study found that COVID-19-related anxiety and stress was associated with a greater desire for muscularity, with anxiety also associated with body fat dissatisfaction.
Wasserbauer said one coping mechanism many people resort to is food for comfort, shutting down and not exercising. The other, she said, is overexercising, starving oneself and anorexia.
WASHINGTON – Education officials rebuffed Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision this week to lift the mask mandate for state schools, with many districts planning to ignore what they called an “irresponsible” decision in a state where COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
“As soon as the governor released it, right away our locals went and met with superintendents, met with governing boards … almost within a couple of hours, it was, ‘Of course we’re going to keep the mask mandate,'” said Marisol Garcia, vice president of the Arizona Education Association.
Arizona Schools Superintendent Kathy Hoffman was more critical, calling Ducey’s move another in “a long line of decisions that have resulted in Arizona’s embarrassing response to a virus that has claimed over 17,000 lives and impacted thousands more.”
“While vaccines hold the promise of a return to normalcy, letting up on other mitigation strategies now just increases risk of transmission at a time when we should be doing everything possible to keep students and their families safe,” Hoffman said in a statement, noting that children younger than 16 are still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines.
The executive order, released Monday, reverses a July order that had required masks for staff and any student older than age 5 while at school, on the bus or at a school-related activity. In a statement with the order, Ducey said that COVID-19 “transmission is low among youth, and Arizona was among the first states to prioritize vaccinating teachers.”
Area highs school seniors can earn $3,500 scholarships to help pay for higher education, thanks to Cox.
The 10 Cox Diversity Scholarships, totaled at $35,000, are available to "future Arizona leaders with rich cultural backgrounds," according to a news release. Applications can be found here. The deadline is May 1.
“Helping students achieve their educational goals helps make our communities stronger. Cox knows that paying for college can be stressful for students and their family. We’re proud to connect families to opportunities like this one, and many others,” said Lisa Lovallo, Market Vice President for Cox, Southern Arizona.
Applicants must be on track to graduate with a minimum 2.5 grade point average and provide demonstrated leadership and community service.
PHOENIX – Red for Ed, the teachers group that spearheaded Proposition 208 – which increases some taxes to hire teachers and bolster teacher salaries – returned to the political battlefield to fight a bill it says undermines the will of Arizona voters in November.
Education advocates oppose Senate Bill 1783, which would allow some business owners to avoid paying the higher taxes Proposition 208 levies on Arizona’s wealthiest residents. Proposition 208, approved by voters 52% to 48%, was spawned by the Red for Ed movement, which formed in 2018 to demand additional funds for education. Arizona ranks 50th in teacher pay, according to Expect More Arizona, an education group.
“This is about the kids and making sure that they have the brightest future possible,” Rebecca Gau, executive director of Stand for Children, said at a rally at the state Capitol last week.
Proposition 208 levies a 3.5% surcharge on the current rate of 4.5% on income exceeding $250,000 for single earners or $500,000 for couples. But SB 1783, sponsored by Sen. J.D. Mesnard, R-Chandler, would circumvent the surcharge by creating an alternate tax category, according to Capitol Media Services.
Mesnard told Capitol Media that the measure would help small businesses.
“We heard time and time again this will not or is not meant to impact small businesses,” he said. “And so what this is doing is ensuring that’s the case.”
About a dozen teachers, parents and students came to the Capitol to show their support for schools. Dressed in red or blue T-shirts, several carried signs. “Education made America great,” one said. “Seriously, do we really need to do this again?” said another.
PHOENIX – NASA has chosen the University of Arizona to lead a space telescope mission meant to better understand how galaxies and stars form. The space agency awarded $20 million to the Aspera mission, which will allow the Arizona researchers to develop a telescope about the size of a minifridge for the expected launch in 2024.
Aspera’s principal investigator will be Carlos Vargas, a postdoctoral research associate at the university’s Steward Observatory and one of the youngest people to hold the title on a NASA mission.
“I always wanted to be in space, working in space. At the very least study space,” said Vargas, 30. “So this kind of was a perfect niche for me to fall into with astronomy.
“Hearing the good news (about Aspera) was one of the craziest days of my life.”
Aspera is one of NASA’s four Astrophysics Pioneers missions, which is a new endeavor to conduct astrophysics science at a small scale and for less cost.
The ultraviolet-detecting telescope will allow researchers to observe galaxy processes they can’t see now. By mapping the hot gases that surround nearby galaxies, researchers can determine how galaxies evolve and interact over time, and how they fuel star formation. Mapping the gas allows astronomers to understand exactly how and why stars form in the later stage of a galaxy’s lifetime.
“As telescopes have become more sensitive and have allowed us to discover more exotic types of gases, we now realize there is tons of stuff in between galaxies that connects them,” Vargas said in a press release. “Galaxies are undergoing this beautiful dance in which inflowing and outflowing gases balance each other.”
The telescope, also called the payload, is joined with a larger spacecraft and solar panels and will be launched into orbit about 465 miles above Earth in 2024. Data transmitters and computers will control much of the operations of the flight, but the payload will be built completely at Arizona. The team is seeking a private company to build the spacecraft and has been working closely with Blue Canyon Technologies, but no official decision has been made yet.
Amphitheater Unified School District high schools will host outdoor graduation ceremonies, district officials announced last week.
The three high schools have also consulted with the Pima County Health Department to decide the best health practices to hold these events.
Graduating seniors at all three high schools - Canyon del Oro, Ironwood Ridge, and Amphi - will receive four guest tickets. All attendees must wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. A livestream option will also be available for all who cannot or do not wish to attend.
Amphi Communications Director Michelle Valenzuela said students would inform the school if they do not wish to participate, but they are not keeping track at the district level.
In an announcement to students and families, Amphitheater High School Principal A.J. Malis asked for patience as information changes and schedules are determined. The schools are mandating students attend the graduation rehearsal ceremonies to determine the distancing and seating of every student.
At a graduation parent meeting on Wednesday, Ironwood Ridge Principal Matt Munger emphasized the importance of attending the rehearsal.
“If they do not, unfortunately, attend the rehearsal, that will preclude them from participating in the commencement ceremony,” Munger said.
Amphitheater District high schools will also offer students the opportunity to participate in Project Grad. Normally a surprise event for students after graduation, Project Grad will now look a little different with schools using outdoor space to plan a socially distanced celebration after the graduation ceremonies.
PHOENIX – State lawmakers are one step closer to passing a bill that would require parents to give written permission for children to discuss sex and gender identity in the classroom and ban any formal sex education – including AIDS instruction – before the fifth grade.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, calls Senate Bill 1456 “a parents’ rights bill.”
“Parents should not have to worry about what schools are teaching their children about human sexuality,” she said in an email. “Too often parents learn after the fact that explicit or controversial materials were presented without their knowledge or consent.”
However, opponents call the measure a dangerous move backward.
“It’s going to impact the ability of teachers to talk about a wide range of issues that impact all students,” said Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Phoenix. Bills like this, he added, “do more harm than they do good to our kids.”
SB 1456 has moved through the Legislature along party lines – finding staunch Republican support and fierce criticism from Democrats. The bill passed the Senate 16-14, and a House committee gave its approval on March 24. The measure now goes to the full House, where Republicans hold a 31-29 majority, for consideration.
Arizona schools are not legally required to teach sex education; school districts usually make those decisions, and parents can opt out of the instruction for their children.
The University of Arizona vaccine point of distribution is opening appointments daily, based on cancellations and capacity, university officials announced Tuesday morning.
“The real limitation was we couldn't get enough vaccines. So we didn't want to have a lot of people standing around, so we only increased our volunteers and our staffing commensurate with the amount of vaccines we could get,” said UA Task Force Director Dr. Richard Carmona. “If we can get more vaccines we can still search even more, hence the 1,000 or so appointments that are out there that are not filled.”
The state vaccination PODs, including the UA POD, expanded eligibility to anyone 16 and older two weeks ago, as they were seeing hundreds of appointments go unfilled. As they release appointments daily, the hope is that no appointments go unfilled, said Carmona.
“We're doing everything we can to use every single one of those vaccinations,” said Carmona. “We don't want to end the day with any vaccinations still in the freezer and not being used.”
The site is averaging about 400 to 500 appointments per day, but last Friday afternoon opened 1,500 appointments.
“That's because we could ramp up our capacity. Our capacity varies daily by the number of vaccinators and pharmacists we can get that actually show up and our number of volunteers,” said UA Vice President of Communications Holly Jensen. “The number of volunteers that it takes to get one person through is about 27 per person that comes through our POD. So all of these things play a huge role in the numbers we can push through every single day.”
UA President Robert C. Robbins said the university is in need of non-medical volunteers as the days grow hotter and volunteers tire out. To volunteer visit covid19.arizona.edu/vaccine and scroll down to “volunteer opportunities.”
In order to encourage vaccination amongst students, the university is offering students the opportunity to earn a $5 star reward at the Arizona Student Union or University of Arizona Bookstores. In order to claim the reward, a student would need to upload their vaccination card to Campus Health. After their final vaccine dose, they will see a green “vx” in their Wildcat OneStop. This also exempts students from weekly testing, which is currently required by the university.