Gov. Hutchinson says there are no plans to move back-to-school start date

KNWA

"I think as a community we all need to come together and wear our masks and do the best we can to get this community spread down, or there just can't be people in-person on August 24," she said.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — As we inch closer to the first day of school and reported COVID-19 cases continue to stay high, many Northwest Arkansas teachers feel we could be starting back too soon.

I just always circle back down to this fear… is it too soon to get all of us back together? It seems that way right now with our community spread the way it is.

MICHELLE WOLCHOK, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACHER 

Arkansas schools are set to start fall semester classes beginning the week of August 24.

Nothing replaces that face-to-face [contact] and that’s why we educators know that’s the way we want to educate when it’s safe.

MICHELLE WOLCHOK, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACHER 

Governor Hutchinson pushed back the original date to give school districts more time to prepare for coronavirus precautions in the classroom.

“We’ve moved it forward for two weeks, everybody is counting on that, that’s where I expect it to stay,” he said. “There’s not any real discussion.”

As we get closer to the first day of school, teachers — like Michelle Wolchok with Fayetteville Public Schools — think they could use even more time.

“I think as a community we all need to come together and wear our masks and do the best we can to get this community spread down, or there just can’t be people in-person on August 24,” she said.

Wolchok, along with many other educators in our area, have expressed the need for Arkansas’ state positivity rate to be below five percednt before classes should be back in session.

Are there other ways that we could start our year off that would be safer?

MICHELLE WOLCHOK, FAYETTEVILLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS TEACHER 

Arkansas’ current positivity rate is below the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guideline of 10 percent, but according to the Arkansas Department of Health‘s website, as of July 20, the positivity rate is at eight percent.

People need to understand that whenever you have that nine percent or eight percent positivity rate, then it does spread to a greater extent.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) ARKANSAS

Governor Hutchinson said he does agree it needs to be lower.

“I just want to challenge everybody that this is something that we watch if we want to get back to normal,” he said. “It has got to be reduced more.”

However, he said there’s no discussion in the works about pushing the Arkansas school start date back.

“To me, it sounds like those are some of the things that would guide us in deciding on when to go back,” Wolchok said.

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

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