Educational Update: July 13

In education news today, Gov. Asa Hutchinson talked a lot about schools at his daily briefing. He used some of his most firm language to date about wearing masks, urging them as a way to help Arkansans safely return to school and sports in the fall.

He also reiterated that schools WILL open in some form. The state guidelines assume all schools open in some form and are meant to help schools decide what to do when cases emerge, which, he acknowledged, is essentially inevitable.

“The question is not if it’s going to happen but how you respond when it does happen.” He said anytime people are together in groups, there is high risk, especially for young people who may not follow the rules. ADH’s Dr. Nate Smith agreed.

Hutchinson: “And that’s exactly the reason we have the plan that’s been outlined that requires following guidelines that’s been issued by the public health department. We’re listening to parents and teachers trying to refine those and in the next 30 days that we have before school starts, we’ll continue to work on that.”

He gave the example of taking each situation case-by-case. Sometimes, you need to shut down a school and go virtual. Sometimes, individual isolation of a student would suffice. Dr. Smith said the state is watching outbreaks in summer team sports closely to identify lapses in guidelines or see what works/what doesn’t work.

In news about individual districts, Little Rock School District, the state’s largest district, released a working document of its proposal and is surveying parents and staff. It includes in-person and and virtual options and goes into details about logistics. Masks will be required. This is the most extensive plan I’ve seen so far and might be worth a look for smaller communities that not sure where to start.

Here’s a letter from Superintendent Poore.

Pulaski County Special School District sent out a final survey to parents on their choice among virtual, hybrid, or in-school options for the fall. Responses are due July 24.

Previously announced but new to this thread: Jacksonville North Pulaski School District has announced virtual and blended options for the fall:  

Previously announced, eStem is offering virtual and blended options.

Also: A Jacksonville/North Pulaski employee tested positive for COVID-19, the district said Saturday. Contacts have been identified and everyone was masked, but the work area has been temporarily closed for cleaning.

Rob Wells

Rob Wells, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Journalism at the University of Arkansas School of Journalism and Strategic Media.

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