LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Department of Education has released guidance to school districts on how to handle the growing concern of the coronavirus.

There are no confirmed cases in Arkansas. However, ADE is monitoring it closely along with the Department of Health.

ADE writes, “if a student is identified as having traveled from China (or other affected country) in the last 14 days and has symptoms (fever, cough, and shortness of breath), they should immediately be placed in a single room and have a mask placed on them. Others in the room should wear a mask. If physical contact is required, then gown, gloves and mask should be worn. Any suspected case (with symptoms) of COVID-19 should be reported to ADH immediately at 501-537-8969 (M-F 8:00 AM – 4:30 PM) or 1-800-554-5738 (after hours and weekends).”

To reduce the risk for getting and spreading viral respiratory infections, including the flu and the common cold, encourage them to take simple steps to help prevent COVID-19. These include:

  • Staying home when they are sick.
  • Frequent handwashing with soap and water. If soap and water are not readily available, using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Advising persons to avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Following the school’s routine cleaning and disinfection program.
  • Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Urging students and staff to get a flu shot during the flu season.
  • Providing adequate supplies for good hygiene.

The Division of Elementary and Secondary Education is allowing school districts to expand their Alternate Methods of Instruction days from five days to 10.

In an ADE Commissioner memo, it says DESE will accept new AMI applications for the 2019-2020 school year from districts that did not previously apply.

AMI days allow school districts to take days off in the classroom, but students must do their classwork online when circumstances prevent students from physically attending school.

The deadline for districts to submit is May 1, 2020.