JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – In a month and a half, schools will reopen across Arkansas. It is going to look a lot different than ever before.
Dr. Bryan Duffie, the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District superintendent, is working around the clock figuring out how students, teachers, and staff can safely attend school next year. He says there are multiple areas where every Arkansas school must adjust.
“Like food service, transportation, on-site instruction, virtual instruction, screening procedures,” he said.
His district is allowing parents to opt for in-class learning or online.
“As of today we have 606 families wanting the virtual school option.”
The schools must socially distance as much as possible, but when that’s not possible like, during class changes, he says wearing a mask is a must.
“That way we can take care of each other. We can show we care for each other and respect one another, in close quarters, by doing that in close quarters when you can’t be 6 foot apart or 12 foot apart.”
Duffie says school districts across the state have been working with the Department of Education and the Health Department. Duffie says he’s kept constant communication with other districts to come up with the best practices when dealing with the pandemic.
“We all realize we’re dealing with the same issues. Logistics are a little different but we’re really all on the same page about what to do and what not to do in general,” he said.
Duffie says everyone understands this is a new normal and there is room to adjust.
“We are going to do it the best we can.”
As far as keeping class sizes small and socially distant, the superintendent says they will determine that when they know, for certain, how many students will be doing virtual learning.
A Department of Education spokesperson says they encourage all schools to explore blended learning options.