Bentonville schools expand virtual program to all students

Coronavirus

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Bentonville School District expands its virtual program to prepare for the next school year. This is one of the moves by the district’s newly created task force to address welcoming students back in the fall.

“I wasn’t really surprised but I’m glad that they are doing it so that social distancing can be a thing and I know it is easier for some students who have to work more than other students,” said Rebecca Longtin, a junior student at Bentonville High School.

“There are other people who pick a virtual education anyway. They are just that kind of self-starters, self-learning kids that their parents made the decision and they just thrive in the environment,” said the School Board of Education, President Eric White.

The virtual program started 2 years ago and has more than 100 students enrolled. White said that a task force made up of parents, medical professionals, and law enforcement to name a few is looking into the best way to prepare for the fall.

“Everything from personal protective equipment to screening measures to classroom sizes, all of that is under discussion right now and we will get guidance from the state of Arkansas.”

Longtin considered the program in the past.

“Something happened in my personal life and being around crowds and being around a bunch of people just got too stressful but I was able to move past that and finish out the semester.”

Longtin did get a taste of virtual learning when in-person classes closed because of the coronavirus pandemic but she quickly realized it was not for her.

“Whenever I tried to do my school work at home it was just a struggle. I wasn’t able to get the assignments to load and couldn’t do anything because my phone’s hot spot could only do so much.”

The school has expanded its WiFi connection to help families who don’t have access to the internet. 

Longtin did most of her work at a coffee shop and just hopes her last year of high school goes uninterrupted.

“Being at school, my senior year like getting to do all of the traditional stuff, being able to do it for my last time is def something I want to do.”

Fayetteville, Rogers and Springdale schools all have virtual programs available for varying age groups.

Families in the Bentonville school district will be receiving surveys in the next few weeks to get feedback on the interests in the virtual program.

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