By Associated Press - Wednesday, October 28, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) - The most prominent exhibition in a collection of separately produced gem and mineral shows that draw thousands of visitors to Tucson annually has canceled its 2021 event in January and February because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Officials from the Tuscon Gem and Mineral Society who stage the annual event said Tuesday they were canceling next year’s event in order to avoid further spreading the coronavirus.

COVID-19-related risks made it impossible “to put on anything more than a shadow of our accustomed vibrant event,” officials said in a statement. “Most importantly, TGMS does not want to be responsible for a single COVID-19 fatality or serious illness.”

The show is part of the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase that also includes dozens of other events that are staged in various venues in the city by other promoters during the same period.

In other developments:



- Fountain Hills High School is closing its campus for 14 days and moving all instruction online because of COVID-19 exposures.

“Due to the number of students who have been in direct contact with a person who has tested positive, we feel this decision is in the best interest of our students,” the Fountain Hills Unified School District said in a Facebook post Wednesday.

-Tucson’s largest school district, Tucson Unified, will reopen schools for hybrid instruction beginning Nov. 12 under a 3-2 vote Tuesday night by the district board.

The district plans to have students go to school for in-person instruction during parts of most school days while also continuing remote learning.

Many teachers opposed reopening schools before January, but many parents wanted their students back at school sooner, and district officials said enrollment was dropping.

- The Arizona Department of Health Services on Wednesday reported 1,044 additional known COVID-19 cases statewide with 14 additional deaths, increasing the state’s totals to 241,165 cases and 5,805 deaths.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Arizona was a national hotspot in June and July but COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations then fell off before starting to gradually increase again in September.

- The Department of Health Services has loosened its recommendations on when school districts should return to remote learning because of worsening COVID-19 conditions in counties, KNXV-TV reported.

The previous recommendation called for consideration of returns to remote learning if at least one of a county’s three benchmarks based on COVID-19 cases, testing positivity and prevalence of COVID-19-like illness moved from moderate to substantial spread.

The new recommendation calls for districts to move to remote learning when all three benchmarks move to substantial spread to two weeks.

The department said in a statement the change was intended “to be consistent” with recent changes in guidance for businesses in how counties can move between moderate and substantial spread.

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