Districts, parents, and educators uncertain of what new school year will look like

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FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Uncertainty looms for local school districts about what this next school year will look like.

The Arkansas Ready for Learning initiative is a plan to get students and teachers back in schools by August, but there are still things that need to be determined.

Kimberly Mundell with the Arkansas Department of Education said the state is asking districts to develop a blended learning plan. This way, schools could pivot to online instruction if needed, including if there is an outbreak of the coronavirus in an area.

Dr. Samantha Hall with the Fort Smith School District said when surveying parents, about half said they want to wait and see what things will look like before deciding the type of learning their child will participate in.

She said teachers have been preparing for any scenario for several weeks.

“We have our certified staff working virtually to provide them with the skills and the knowledge they need to do blended and or virtual learning,” Dr. Hall said. “So when schools come back, they’re going to be ready.”

On Tuesday, the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos said the plan in the fall should be to reopen schools at full capacity. Dr. Hall said a detailed plan on social distancing and other practices to keep students safe should be released sometime this week.

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