FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — We’re 20 days away from the first day of school and parents like Sarah Deaton, with kids in the Fayetteville School District, are in a bind.
I feel like parents are in full-time crisis, like full-time panic mode. I know I am and I know all the parents I’ve talked to are in panic mode.SARAH DEATON, HAS KIDS IN THE FAYETTEVILLE DISTRICT
Fayetteville Schools gave parents three options to choose from for the fall semester — all include at least three days of virtual learning for children.
“There’s just so many layers to this people really can’t afford, but they are having to make that sacrifice for their kids,” Deaton said. “It’s very unsettling.”
Deaton said she had no choice but to transfer her kids out because of it.
“We’re being forced to go to private school,” she said. “Not like we have a bunch of extra money but with a kid with dyslexia, there’s no option.”
They cannot meet his IEP needs 2 days a week. It is devastating.SARAH DEATON, HAS KIDS IN THE FAYETTEVILLE DISTRICT
Alan Wilbourn, with Fayetteville Public Schools, said after many meetings and physically going into every classroom, in order to make sure social distancing guidelines are followed — this was the best solution.
“We felt like the number one priority had to be the health and safety of students and staff that are on-site at school,” he said. “We determined that we really can’t social distance properly if everyone is there at the same time.”
Wilbourn said the district knew this would impact some families, but they are in the works of coming up with ways to try and help accommodate.
“It’s not a one size fits all to help families that are impacted by this, we hope to have some more information to release on that in a few days,” he said. “It affects some of our staff members who have children that are school-age so we have to address all of that too.”
Wilbourn said he wants to remind parents this is temporary, and he feels it’s the quickest way to get back to traditional learning.
“The parts of school that we’re missing…we want to do everything we can to not only get through this providing good education but get back to those days,” he said. “Nobody wants to get back to what was normal more than educators.”
Kelly Riley, a teacher at Fayetteville High School, agrees.
I’m dying to see my students, I want to see them.KELLY RILEY, FAYETTEVILLE HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER
Riley said she’s proud of her district and all the hard work they are putting in to try and keep students and staff safe.
We’ve spent the majority of the summer trying to determine and best plan how school will function this fall.ALAN WILBOURN, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
They said they also want the safety of students and staff, but don’t understand why Fayetteville is the only district who is choosing to do this plan — especially since more than 70 percent of parents were in favor of in-person schooling.
How can we help our teachers make this school safe and get our kids back in school so they can learn?KELLY SCOTT UNGER, HAS KIDS IN THE FAYETTEVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT
“Schools closed on March 16, they knew the risks that would be posed to students and teachers returning this fall and they’ve had 20+ weeks now to deal with that and make things safe,” Clark said. “No action has been taken.”
Moser said, like Deaton, she is also in the process of transferring her kids out.
Sixty percent of the time that my kids are in school this fall, they’re actually not with a teacher. Instead, they’ll be with a babysitter, they’ll be with someone who is basically helping them navigate an online curriculum.AMBER MOSER, HAS KIDS IN THE FAYETTEVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT
KNWA/KFTA asked the school district lots of questions like — What’s the plan for providing free lunch 5 days a week? What will the district do if there’s a confirmed positive case? How are teachers equipped to make sure younger kids are engaged with virtual schooling?
There are lots of different strategies to keep a child engaged online as opposed to in the classroom and it is more of a challenge, but again we’re going to do the absolute best we can and this is temporary.ALAN WILBOURN, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Wilbourn said many of the questions are answered in the district’s reopening guide for families.
Below is more from Wilbourn’s interview:
Stay with KNWA/KFTA as we continue to follow this story and work hard to get all your questions answered.