By Mary Hennigan
As the school semester comes to a close for the holiday season in Arkansas, the total combined active COVID-19 cases in all institutions was about 1,300 on Dec. 6, a fraction of the case levels in early September, according to the Arkansas Department of Health.
Public school districts reported the bulk of those active cases, 1,123, and the highest active case count, 61, was reported in the Bentonville district. By contrast, public schools reported 4,833 active cases on Sept. 6 as COVID spread during the return to school but declined steadily since then.
The state health department reported 25 active cases in private schools and 128 active cases in universities. The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, had the highest active case count with 38, followed by Arkansas Tech in Russellville with 11 cases.
These comparatively low numbers are a stark contrast to the peak in institutions that were reported in September. As of early November, the COVID-19 vaccine was available to all Arkansans age five and older. Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson said about 62% of eligible residents have received a vaccination, 50.7% of which are fully vaccinated as of Nov. 30.
Secretary of Health, Jose Romero, spoke to the importance of vaccination for school-aged children during the press conference.
“It’s important that parents realize that this virus does affect children,” he said. “It can have long-term consequences and that vaccines are available, and we’re encouraging them to get their children vaccinated.”