BENTON, Ark. — Dozens of Arkansas schools have had to work on a learning curve due to curveballs thrown by the coronavirus.
Benton Public Schools is one of those districts having to adjust.
Today the district started the first of what they’re calling “Virtual Fridays.”
This means students at all grade levels have the option to be virtual on Fridays from now until December 18th.
The district said no new material will be covered on these days, but children can still be on campus. Care and other types on instruction will be provided.
The school district said it was feedback from teachers, staff and the community which led to this decision.
The district said this will give teachers extra time to prepare for both students in their classroom and those who are learning from home.
“We talked to the teachers after the first few weeks of school and we learned the stresses that they were going through as they try to keep education the same for our on-sight and virtual students,” said Benton Public Schools spokesperson Isabella Bradley.
The teachers took a vote and now students have the option to stay home on Fridays and learn virtually.
But that doesn’t mean the day is a free-for-all.
“We’re still offering all five days of instruction, busses are running, school lunches will be provided,” Bradley said.
Some parents, though, aren’t so sure.
“Here’s another curve ball being thrown at us,” said Zach Lyons, whose daughter, Deklyn, attends Caldwell Elementary.
Lyons said he’s getting tired of all the changes.
“It just seems to be a continual, ‘Oh, here we go again,'” Lyons said.
Lyons said he’s glad the schools are staying open on Fridays, but he’s worried about the quality of instruction his daughter will be getting on those days.
“What real education are they going to get out of ‘Virtual Friday?”
“I don’t want any misconception to be that parents are shouldering any of this,” Bradley said. “You can send your child to school and they will still get the same education that they would any other day of the week.”
Lyons said he understands that, but questions how well “Virtual Fridays” will be utilized. “How much are the virtual students actually reaching out to the staff that are on site at schools?,” Lyons said.
“Let’s get some normalcy back for our children because this is very stressful for them, too,” Lyons said.
The school district said “Virtual Fridays” will continue through December 18th. There’s no word yet on what the district’s plan is for the spring.