Arkansas Division of Schooling releases new steering as some colleges rethink digital choices as a consequence of rise in instances | KTVE
EL DORADO, Ark. KTVE / KARD (7/28/21) – The Arkansas Department of Education released new guidelines for schools this fall.
“Last year was a challenging school year,” said Kimberly Mundell, director of communications for ADE. “We hope for the best, but we need to prepare as this new Delta variant is making its rounds across the state and we are seeing more and more reports of affected children.”
ADE encourages unvaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors and outdoors in crowded environments. It has also updated its social distancing and quarantine guidelines.
Individuals exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 do not need to be quarantined if they are symptomatic and both the infected and the exposed person wore a mask correctly and consistently.
Schools cannot require masks due to the new law that is now in place. It allows only private companies, government health institutions, institutions operated by the Department of Justice, and institutions operated by the Department of Youth Services of the Department of Health to create their own policies.
Governor Hutchinson made a statement on how lawmakers are working to resolve the issue. He made the following statement:
“A special session remains an option as we are looking for specific ways to help our schools prepare for the next school year. In the coming days, I’ll be evaluating options for legislative changes to Law 1002 that will give our schools more local control over student health needs as we move into a new school year given the Delta option. I will not make a decision on a special session until the legislative leadership has an opportunity to discuss further options with their members. “
We contacted House Speaker Matthew Shepherd who said talks are ongoing and will continue in the coming days.
There are a few schools in the area that have chosen not to offer virtual options for the upcoming school year but are now considering doing so.
Parker’s Chapel Superintendent John Gross said the school board voted in May not to offer any of its students a virtual option. As cases have increased in the state recently, the district has filed a motion to extend the ruling on its virtual plans for the school year.
Gross said the district wants to continue monitoring the spread of the coronavirus before focusing on offering distance learning to students.
The Hamburg school district is also weighing its options. Currently, only 7th through 12th grade students have the opportunity to study virtually, but students had to be enrolled in the virtual program.
“We have not yet made this decision for elementary. We meet constantly and see what best serves our students, ”said Superintendent Tracy Streeter. “We know from last year that our students need to teach and learn face to face. So we focus on protection and do everything we can to keep the children in school. “
Junction City School District is offering a virtual option to its K-12 students. With the increase in cases across the state, Superintendent Robbie Lowe said the district has reopened applications for the virtual kite school.
The original deadline for parents to submit applications was July 14th.
“It’s not last year’s virtual education. Our synchronous learning platform was created and implemented by employees of the school, ”wrote one employee on the district’s Facebook page.
The Camden School District has voted not to offer its students a virtual option. We contacted Superintendent Johnny Embry, but he was not available for comment.
Districts that did not submit a digital learning plan in May have now been given an August 2nd extension to submit proposals.
“Everything changes with the pandemic and sometimes it changes more often than others,” Mundell said. “These plans are carefully and thoroughly reviewed by various departments within the department to ensure they are of quality before being forwarded to the State Department of Education.”
The ADE encourages eligible individuals to get vaccinated and encourages parents to have local school-level discussions with their child’s school district if there are concerns about the spread of the virus.