MISSISSIPPI COUNTY, Ark. (KAIT) - Schools across Arkansas are putting plans in place to start the next school year in August with the threat of COVID-19 looming overhead.
“We’re definitely planning as much as we can, knowing that everything that we plan is subject to change,” Rivercrest Superintendent Sally Bennett said.
The Rivercrest School District released their preliminary plan on reopening school, which includes a virtual option for families who do not feel like it is safe to send their kids to school.
“We will have an off-site virtual academy option for all of our students in grades kindergarten through 12,” Bennett said. “So, if a family is not comfortable for whatever that reason is, that will be something that they can choose to participate in.”
The district is using the state provided curriculum called Lincoln Learning for the students taking part in the virtual option.
Bennett said it will be a seamless transition because teachers on campus will also use part of the curriculum in their classes.
“We plan to have digital days for onsite instruction so both teachers and students are comfortable in that environment.”
The virtual academy will also replace the traditional Alternative Method of Instruction days, or AMI days and it will be called Rivercrest Remote Days.
“And should we ever have to pivot, that’s the new term to offsite instruction, due to an outbreak or even snow, we could transition very easily,” Bennett said.
Families that participate in the virtual academy are being asked to commit to a semester of the program.
“So students will need to be somewhat independent learners, but we will have staff members who will be available for support,” Bennett said.
For students who will attend classes on campus in the fall, changes will be seen inside the schools as well.
The district is look at the access points inside the schools. To ensure proper social distancing, there will be markers placed on the floors.
Bennett said they are looking at their cafeterias and looking to see they can provide breakfast and lunch for the kids in a safe way.
“That may mean we have staggered lunch times,” Bennett said. “In some instances and some days, we may serve lunches in classrooms, breakfast in the same kind of way.”
For high school students, some of the hallways will be one-way hallways and the wider halls will have lanes for students.
Teachers are also being asked to evaluate their classrooms to see how they can maximize the distance between students.
They will also increase the cleansing of the school with approved products. The district has even bought fogging devices that can be used to sanitize classrooms and buses.
And while it will not be easy, Bennett said she knows everyone will be ready.
“I have no doubt that they’re going to rise to this challenge and out students will be well served for next year,” Bennett said.
The Rivercrest School District released a guide to the reopening of school which you can see by clicking here.