Administrators adamant about back-to-school start date

KNWA

Students are set to head back to the classroom in less than 20 days.

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Administrators are adamant schools will start August 24, as COVID-19 cases continue to stay high.

Fear is a big deal and everyone has it for some reason or another, but if we can use a little bit of that fear to promote production to get through this mess together then I think at the end of this we will all be much better.

JARED CLEVELAND, SPRINGDALE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

Springdale Public Schools Superintendent Jared Cleveland said the district is prepared for the unknowns of COVID-19.

“We have a lot of confidence in regard to having kids show up on campus day one,” he said.

Cleveland said the district is implementing many changes like — requiring masks, providing thermometers to teachers, and placing hand sanitizer all over the campuses.

“We are trying to limit class sizes as much as we can with the three options of our curriculum delivery,” he said. “We also have additional custodians that will be spread out across all the buildings.”

Districts have done an amazing job.

KIMBERLY MUNDELL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

These measures coming after many meetings with people in the community, parents, and health officials.

“Our focus was to get as many diverse minds in the room so we could think around the entire issue and it really helped us do that,” he said.

If there’s a positive case within the school, Kimberly Mundell with the Arkansas Division of Elementary and Secondary Education said the state will offer guidance directly, which will vary by district.

There’s not a set threshold that we at the state can provide if you have X number of cases you must shut down.

KIMBERLY MUNDELL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

“Those decisions are going to have to be determined as things go,” she said. “Three cases of COVID in one district is going to have a different impact than three cases in a different district.”

“Pivot” has been the state’s go-to word when discussing the transition to complete online learning.

One viewer asked KNWA/FOX 24, “what will it take to pivot, someone dying?”

We asked Mundell to clarify.

“I think pivot is not tied specifically to deaths,” she said. “Pivot means when does a school change from in-person instruction to fully remote instruction.”

That’s going to be made depending on the outbreak of COVID on a school campus or in a school building. That’s when learning what pivot to remote learning.

KIMBERLY MUNDELL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Regardless of what does happen, Cleveland said the district and teachers are working hard to be prepared on the front end.

“It’s going to be an interesting two weeks,” Cleveland said. “They’ll be tired every day, I’m sure they are going to come early and stay late, knowing the teachers at Springdale Public Schools.”

Teachers are set to come back to school on August 11.

Districts know best what their needs are because what may work well in a larger district in Northwest Arkansas may not be what would work well in a smaller district that may be located in Eastern Arkansas or Southwest Arkansas.

KIMBERLY MUNDELL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

Mundell said the Department of Education is aware of the concerns parents and teachers have.

“We have those same concerns as well here,” she said. “We want to make sure that we are doing the best that we can to help districts in any way that we can to mintage the risk associated with COVID-19.”

She said the department works closely with the Arkansas Department of Health and Governor Asa Hutchinson when making back-to-school guidelines and decisions during this pandemic.

“We’ve gotten feedback from a lot of educators,” she said. “There’s a whole group of stakeholders that we have worked with since day one on this.”

The department has also been working with other departments of education across the country.

What issues specifically other states are facing may not have as much as an impact here, but also in some cases, we may face the same situations, but we may face it further down the road than other states.

KIMBERLY MUNDELL, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, DIVISION OF ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION

KNWA/FOX 24 knows many parents and teachers still have a lot of questions about the upcoming school year and we are working to get you answers.

If you have any questions, send them to us!

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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