Local teacher shares concerns for upcoming school year during COVID-19 surge

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A Fayetteville teacher said she is concerned for the safety of her students and other faculty as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

There is currently no mask mandate in place and a plan from the Arkansas Department of Education has yet to be released for the 2021-2022 school year.

Nicole Conway is an art teacher at Fayetteville High School. She fears many of her students will not get the shot because of their own hesitations or because their parents will not let them.

“That is a serious worry… just knowing we have to be bracing for tragedy,” Conway said. “The responsibility I feel is so much greater once I’m in this room with the young people.”

This responsibility is for not only her students but her colleagues, too.

“I am vaccinated, but we’re hearing about people who are vaccinated still becoming infected now.”

Conway is not the only one concerned about keeping young people safe this school year.

Dr. Ben Amick is the Associate Dean at the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at UAMS. He said getting students vaccinated is no longer up to schools.

“Their hands are tied they can only encourage kids to get vaccinated,” Dr. Amick said. “We’ve tried everything.”

Conway said while her students are eligible for the vaccine, she still plans to wear her mask and keep her distance just in case.

“I worry about the virus continuing to evolve,” Conway said. “We know it is, and it seems to become more dangerous.”

Conway said while she is extremely concerned to head back to the classroom, she is certain the Fayetteville School District has the best interest of students and teachers at heart. She said by encouraging them to wear masks and holding vaccine clinics over the summer, the district is doing all it can to keep everyone safe.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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