The Little Rock Education Association says the Little Rock School District should phase in a return to class beginning with remote instruction only until COVID-19 cases begin declining locally.
The LREA, which once represented Little Rock teachers until the state ended that contractual relationship, says it believes state Education Secretary Johnny Key is calling shots on school in Little Rock as the district’s nominal “school board” under state control.
The problem, the LREA said in a statement from its president, Teresa Knapp Gordon:
Other states and large cities have phased in school reopening and Arkansas should do the same, the LREA says. It proposes:
PHASE 1: All remote learning to begin schools. Teachers must be trained in this, including coping with health issues. All classes would be virtual. Meal services to children would continue.
PHASE 2: This would take place only after Arkansas is declared no longer a “red zone” state and the number of COVID-19 cases in Arkansas and Pulaski County has been in decline for 14 days. Then the learning should be a hybrid of classroom and virtual instruction — two days in class and three days in virtual instruction (the model recently adopted by the Fayetteville School District). Protective gear and spacing would be required, perhaps with the use of previously vacant buildings to ensure distancing.
PHASE 3: A return to regular classroom instruction, but only after the number of coronavirus cases statewide has dropped below 50 a day (it was 699 in the last 24 hours). A full virtual option would remain available.
The statement calls this the “morally correct” choice and seeks a response from the governor and Johnny Key.
The governor indicated some displeasure at Fayetteville’s decision to offer a blend of in-class and home instruction, along with a full virtual option. But he has said local districts should have flexibility tailored to local circumstances. Pulaski County has been a leader in COVID-19 cases, though well behind, for example, Washington County on both actual number and per capita rate.
I’ve sent requests for comment to the governor and Key.
UPDATE: From Key through spokesman:
We acknowledge their feedback, and decisions will continue to be made based on public health data in consultation with ADH and the necessity of education.”