Add the Arkansas Public Policy Panel, a grassroots advocacy group, to a growing chorus of voices questioning the wisdom of reopening school classrooms in August.
Read the full statement at the link. It says in part:
Arkansas should delay the start of virtual school this fall until we can ensure that every student has access to a quality virtual learning opportunity. The resumption of in-person learning should be delayed until every Arkansas school district can meet the minimum health recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
It is a moral and constitutional obligation of the state to provide an adequate and equitable education that is safe for all students and staff. Arkansas is simply not prepared to meet those standards.
The statement recounts the rising health problems in Arkansas, figures that fall short of CDC guidelines for reopening. It also faults districts for not including all people involved in committees preparing for reopening.
The statement also says:
The Arkansas Public Policy Panel and the Citizens First Congress Education Caucus, which is composed of community leaders from around the state, recommends the creation of an Adequacy and Equity in COVID-19 Task Force made up of members of the local Ready For Learning Committee as suggested by the Arkansas Board of Education.
State-provided paid family leave may be essential for those who need to stay home to help their children with distant learning or care for a family member who has become infected.
Arkansas leaders have left parents, students, and educators with a terrible choice. Returning to school in person when we are certain we cannot meet the minimum health guidelines nearly guarantees more people will get sick, suffering long-lasting health consequences and death. Returning to virtual school right now ensures that some students will simply be left behind. Keeping students out of school presents its own set of risks and consequences.
As recently as yesterday afternoon, Governor Hutchinson indicated a change in the opening date the week of Aug. 24, with in-class instruction a required option, was non-negotiable.