Governor Asa Hutchinson today declared a public health emergency due to an increase in COVID-19 cases and has asked the legislature to convene a special session to discuss the upcoming school year.
On Tuesday, the Department of Education and Secondary Education issued a Commissioner’s Memo to provide updated guidance based on the current public health situation. This update is available at https://bit.ly/2VgFv8A. It will require a community effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, so we encourage you to read and consider this guidance.
We want to assure you that we are monitoring COVID-19 cases, and we are carefully considering the recommendations from DESE and the Arkansas Department of Health. We will do everything we can to protect our students and staff while trying to make the upcoming school year as normal as we can.
We expect to receive more guidance over the coming days and will update you as those guidelines and recommendations are received.
As of today, we will carry forward many of the social distancing measures we had in place last year, and we will continue to do contact tracing and be diligent about sanitizing classrooms. At this time, face masks are optional. According to state law, only the General Assembly has the authority to enact face mask requirements in public schools.
We still plan to host an Open House at each campus, but we are looking into ways to stagger the times to reduce crowd sizes. Families who are not comfortable attending Open House may schedule a different time to visit the campus and drop off their child’s school supplies.
While the rise in cases is disconcerting, we are fortunately more prepared this year to make adjustments when necessary to protect our students and staff, because we have been through this before. Additionally, we now have the systems and technology in place to continue teaching and learning virtually when students and/or staff cannot be onsite due to illness, quarantines, and closures.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation.