Hot Springs School District finalizing plans for safe school year

Reopening Schools in Arkansas

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – With more than a month until the school doors open, the Hot Springs School District is putting the finishing touches on their plans for the fall.

The district created a group called Trojans Ready for Learning Committee. It’s made up of staff and parents all discussing ways to keep students safe and healthy. The plans are still in the works but the district is close to putting out a final copy.

While the halls are empty and the classrooms are dark, administrators like Superintendent Stephanie Nehus are working to get everything ready for the lights come back on.

“we are working tirelessly. We are much more prepared to provide a rigorous on grade level curriculum to all students no matter what learning opportunity they choose,” Nehus said.

The district put out an FAQ for parents that’s acting like a rough draft of what learning will look like come August. It starts with three learning options. Traditional will be completely in the classroom. Virtual will have students learning from home online. Blended will combine the two with students coming into the classroom two days a week.

“About 60% have chosen traditional. We probably have another 25% that have chosen the blended option and then 15% chose the virtual option,” Nehus said.

For those choosing the classroom route, that will start with screening students and staff and even taking their temperature before they ever walk through the doors.

“It’s going to be a little difficult at first but we’re all going to get used to it and we’re all going to eventually settle into a routine where health screenings and safety precautions are just another part of the school day,” HSSD Communications Coordinator Adriane Barnes said.

She said the district still plans to have students switch classrooms and keep recess, lunch and extra curricular activities.

“We will have to keep a list and limit who the kids are with in those extra curricular activities but they are not going to not happen at all,” Barnes said.

Administrators know the transition will be challenging, but will all become part of a new normal.

“Different may be very complicated at first but with patience and collaboration in place it’s doable and it’s doable for our kids too,” Barnes said.

The district will also provide three cloth masks to each student and two to staff. Right now those masks are not required but strongly encouraged. They will be required on buses. Administrators say all of this is subject to change as things continue to progress.

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