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Instruction goes remote at some schools in state

But active cases of covid-19at districts down in a week by Jaime Adame | January 12, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Schools in scattered communities around the state began the new year's second week of instruction with a temporary shift to remote learning because of the pandemic.

But across Arkansas, active cases of covid-19 in public school districts fell to 3,280 on Monday from 3,357 last week, though the total remains more than double the level of cases seen in schools two months earlier.

Monticello School District in southeast Arkansas shifted to remote instruction for all its schools starting Monday with 33 teachers and staff in quarantine in addition to 188 students, Superintendent Sandy Lanehart said in a letter to parents and students.

The number of students in quarantine as of Monday made up just over 10% of the district's total enrollment, according to state data.

"Please know the Monticello School District's first priority is the safety of all of our students and staff. This is not something that we take lightly," Lanehart said in the letter.

The district on Monday had a total of 21 active covid-19 cases, according to state Department of Health data. On-site instruction is set to resume Monday, Lanehart's letter states.

Elsewhere in the state, individual schools made the shift. In Central Arkansas, Robinson Middle School and Sylvan Hills Middle School shifted Monday to remote instruction.

"Although the number of actual positive cases for covid-19 are low, we want to ensure that all students and staff remain healthy and safe," the Pulaski County Special School District announced Monday. The district has a third school, Landmark Elementary, that also has shifted to online-only instruction.

Jessica Duff, a district spokeswoman, said administrators will meet Friday to decide if the shifts need to be extended into next week.

The Little Rock School District on Monday released data for a 48-hour period that took place over the weekend, with six new cases of covid-19 identified. Three cases involve students and the rest district employees. No single school had more than one new case over the two-day period.

In northeast Arkansas, KIPP Blytheville Collegiate High School began a shift to online instruction Monday, said William Hill, executive director of KIPP Delta Public Schools. The school switched to remote-only instruction because of the number of teachers considered to have had "close contact" or exposure to covid-19. Health protocols require quarantine for those exposed.

The covid-19 case totals in public school districts are reported twice weekly by the state Department of Health. The report Monday listed five districts with more than 90 active covid-19 cases, totals that include both students and district employees.

Springdale School District topped the list with 182 active cases, followed by the Little Rock School District with 137, the Rogers School District with 133, the Bentonville School District with 129 and the Fort Smith School District with 91 active cases.

At the state's colleges and universities -- many of which began spring semester classes Monday -- active case totals increased to 598 from a total of 577 active cases listed in Thursday's state Health Department report.

The latest report showed the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville with 119 active cases. The University of Central Arkansas, which begins its spring semester classes next week, was next on the list with 60 active cases.


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