Families, teachers send letter to governor regarding plans to reopen schools

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As schools plan for the upcoming year, many families and community members have raised their concerns about the start date. More than 4,000 concerned people signed a letter sent to Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) stating their fears.

Hutchinson addressed the letter in Friday’s COVID briefing, and he said he values these opinions and welcomes all ideas on how to safely open schools back up. Still, he said he plans to keep the start dates in place.

“Obviously, we want to start on day one with in classroom instruction, and we think we have a good plan for that, but we welcome those ideas,” Hutchinson said.

Molly Carman is a Fayetteville mom who said she signed this letter hoping the governor will notice the many fears people have and answer a few of their questions.

“I just don’t think it’s fair to ask schools to continue this process of reopening and to ask parents to send our kids in there,” Carman said.

State leaders said schools can offer virtual classes or a hybrid approach that allows some classroom teaching, but schools still must provide an in-person option five days a week.

Hutchinson said the state continues to work on addressing concerns and the two-week delay to start school is intended to help schools prepare.

Sec. of Education Johnny Key announced a new resource for students called the Kid’s Guide to the Coronavirus. He says the guide was funded by the CARES Act and will be distributed to every public and private elementary school in the state over the next few weeks.

“What this is is simply a kid-friendly and parent-friendly guide so that our students can understand what they are dealing with,” Key said.

Key said the state hopes students can get a better understanding of why they are being asked to wear masks and wash their hands more often than normal. A letter to students from the governor is also included on the back of the guide.

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