LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) — Two prominent public-school districts in Central Arkansas announced Wednesday they will pivot to virtual learning for the rest of the week amid growing COVID-19 positives.
The Little Rock School District and Pulaski County Special School District have not yet decided about next week.
Mike Poore is the Little Rock superintendent. He said the omicron variant is “just growing so fast,” and cases are becoming harder to track.
“We have moved to a virtual environment for the next two days,” Poore said.
The Pulaski County Special School District joined Little Rock shortly after the announcement. Parents are split in their reactions to the news.
“I was disappointed but not surprised,” said Katie Rawlings, whose children attend Don Roberts Elementary.
Rawlings said her kids benefit more from in-person learning than virtual, and even a two-day departure from a classroom can impact their mental health.
“Emotionally, they’re having effects from it,” Rawlings said. “Their education is being strongly affected.”
With the district deciding this on short notice, Rawlings said she and other parents are now adjusting their work schedules with little time to plan.
“It’s totally putting things on hold for my work schedule,” Rawlings said. “It’s very [disruptive].”
Charlene Kirk’s 11th grader goes to Parkview Magnet. She said the new variant spreads quickly, as evidenced by her daughter’s positive test.
“We thought it was a cold, but we would never have sent her [with that],” Kirk said. “We got her tested.”
Noting how the virus can spread in indoor settings, and with low vaccination numbers in the student population, Kirk said the district’s decision is the correct one. She said teachers who just tested positive don’t need to return to work yet.
“I was very happy to see Mike Poore pivot to that,” Kirk said. “They could still be contagious and spread it to other people.”
Both parents wonder whether this will continue into next week, and district administrators said they will decide that in coming days.
Parents wanting to know what case numbers look like in their child’s district can go to the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement website.