The state Education Department today put the hammer down on districts planning an alternate-day schedule for in-person instruction.

Deputy Commissioner Ivy Pfeffer distributed this today to school leaders:

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This morning, Secretary Key provided an update to participants at the AAEA summer conference.  A PDF version of the presentation is attached.  Additionally, he provided clarification regarding the expectations for onsite learning this fall in response to questions that have been generated as districts finalize their plans.  The clarification is also attached.

In responding to district questions, we have become aware that some districts are regularly planning virtual days or schedules where students would not be permitted to be onsite.  These types of schedules, where students are routinely or regularly prevented from being onsite are not approved uses of flexibility afforded to schools, unless there is an option for students to be onsite.  Arkansas Ready for Learning includes guidance for schools to respond when outbreaks occur and affect school district operations, which may require districts to pivot to restricted onsite, online, and/or remote learning options for periods of time.  These decisions will be made as necessary and in consultation with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education.

The attached clarification outlines the expectations and options for districts to answer questions that we have been getting.  The list of additional options is not all-inclusive and we realize that districts may be preparing for other types of responses; however, every district must first provide an onsite option where students can access educational resources, school meals, and other needed support daily.

Thank you for your responsiveness to questions and for sharing your plans.  We will continue to work with you as the start of school approaches, so keep us posted on your needs.

The new guidance says four-day school weeks are acceptable. Also, three-day weeks if schools are open on the fourth and fifth days of the week to students. There also seems to be some possibility for alternate day schedules, but only if there are five days a week of “on-site student-teacher interaction.”

The Fayetteville district has been planning since mid-July to have only two days of in-class instruction for students, with others virtual learning. It’s a means, district officials said, to allow for more distancing in classrooms. Half the in-class enrollment would attend two days; half would attend on a different two days and one day would be all-virtual.

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The North Little Rock School District was to consider a similar plan Thursday.

Several things:

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A little late in the game to be changing rules, isn’t it?

Feel confident about Arkansas education leadership and planning for this school year in a hotspot coronavirus state?

Remember when the $106,000-a-year chief spokesman for Johnny Key said this was a “local control state.”

 

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