NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — Next week kids will be back in the classroom for another school year during a pandemic.
The Arkansas Activities Association tells us some sports and extracurricular activities have already been going on throughout the summer and the goal is for schools to continue them safely in the fall.
Dr. Joey Walters is the Deputy Executive Director. He says extracurricular activities are very important for the growth and development of students. He adds schools will continue to follow the recommendations set by the department of education and the department of health.
Masks are recommended outdoors when students are not actively participating in exercise and in crowded spaces. They should also be worn in locker rooms and other indoor settings
“Encourage those mitigations that we have done in the past year and a half. Distancing as much as we can, and screening for any kind of fever, cough, and sickness… and doing the best that we can for ourselves,” said Walters.
Vaccinations are encouraged for those 12 and older. Fully vaccinated kids who are identified as close contacts will not have to quarantine unless they develop symptoms.
Students are also encouraged to avoid personal contact like fist pumps, high fives and chest-bumping.
Walters says it’s important for teachers, coaches and parents to lead by example and follow the safety practices. He adds if everyone does their part school activities will have few to no interruptions.
The Fayetteville school district tells us that the safety measures they followed last year worked. They are much more prepared this school year and plan to put many of the same policies back into action
Public Information Officer, Alan Wilbourn says the district will require staff and students to wear face masks indoors this school year.
When it comes to sports and PE, masks are recommended unless the student is actively participating in exercise or movement.
Students are encouraged to keep their distance in art class, music and other extracurricular activities.
“The best way for us to keep schools open, for us to be able to have athletic events and for us to be able to have things is to follow the advice of medical professionals, wear your mask, keep social distancing and get vaccinated,” said Wilbourn.
Other measures include kids will have their own art supply box to bring to art class, so students don’t have to share supplies. Locker rooms will not be used during PE, instead, kids are to bring a change of shoes.
Wilbourn adds that quarantines will vary depending on someone’s vaccination status.
Wilbourn says the schools will also keep up their cleaning and sanitation of sports equipment, lockers and other high touchpoints surfaces.