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School preps for COVID-19, concerned about Delta variant

Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT
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MARKED TREE, Ark. (KAIT) - In just a few weeks, kids will be back in school.

Schools across Region 8 are left to make tough decisions, including whether or not a virtual option will be there.

One district’s superintendent said Monday having the option is being responsible. A parent from another district is concerned that her child’s school doesn’t have a plan.

Matt Wright, Marked Tree superintendent, said the district is concerned about the Delta variant. They’re especially concerned for the kids that are too young to receive the vaccine.

“At the end of the day, it’s us. It’s all about what we have to do to keep our kids safe. We want to act in the most responsible manner we can for all parties involved, rather that is students and parents but also the community at large,” said Wright.

Right now, they haven’t seen a whole lot of interest in online learning, but that may change if cases continue to rise.

“From an organizational approach, it would be better to have a plan and not need one than I would be to need one and not have one, so I think that is what led us to create the plan, and we’re lucky we did,” said Wright.

Wright added that they formed the virtual learning plan back in May when cases were on the downward trend, but he learned last year that you never know what to expect from COVID-19.

There are two options for students, including in-person learning or attending the same classes through Zoom.

“We felt that it was important for them to hear the instruction from the teacher, to interact with the teacher in real-time, to be able to hear the discussion that takes place between the teacher and classmates,” said Wright.

Wright said masks are strongly encouraged, especially for kids under 12.

“Those kids can’t be vaccinated, so the only layer of protection they have are masks, so we’re going to encourage our students to wear masks, but we’re also going to do everything we can from our standpoint to make sure the building is clean, make sure everything is being sanitized,” said Wright.

Jonesboro Public Schools issued a statement on July 22 explaining they plan not to offer a full-time virtual option and quoted the Center for Disease Control (CDC) saying, “Children benefit from in-person learning, and safely returning to in-person learning in the fall of 2021 is a priority.”

“School starts back in four weeks- what do we do?” said Chanda Julian.

Julian’s child will attend Annie Camp Junior High in the fall. She said the lack of a virtual option is concerning.

“There needs to be some sort of a backup plan. They’ve been slammed into a situation that they thought we were going to have a normal year this year, and obviously, that’s going to be an issue, at least for the first part of the school year,” said Julian.

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