Pocahontas School Superintendent reacts to late-August start-time

Pocahontas School Superintendent reacts to late-August start-time

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - With the Governor’s announcement Thursday pushing back the start date for schools to late August, Region 8 News met with Pocahontas School Superintendent Jerry Martens to get his reaction.

He says that, much like the decision to close schools in the spring, the Governor’s announcement to push the start date back to late August came without warning.

“This was just something that was kind of a spur of the moment,” Martens said. “I can understand, with the rise in the COVID numbers, I can understand why they’re trying to do this.”

Superintendent Martens said the school board was working to finalize the calendar for the year when the announcement came. He said the calendar has to be approved by the personnel policy committee before being adopted by the school board, and that now the school is “scrambling” to get a new plan done.

“We’re looking at our school calendar for next year and seeing where we can possibly take some days we had in the calendar for [professional development] days and turning those into virtual days,” Martens said. “We’ve already [changed the schedule] once and now, we’re having to go back and kind of retrace those steps.”

In addition to changing some off days to virtual days, Martens added that he doesn’t want to add days at the end of the school year because he feels that there isn’t much gained on an instructional basis when that’s done.

Regarding the announcement, Martens added that he hopes the number of new cases decreases by the time August 24th comes around.

He says one of the biggest concerns the district has faced is coming up with a plan if a teacher tests positive for coronavirus due to the number of students a teacher comes into contact with on a daily basis.

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