Keeping a real-time tally of COVID-19 infections in schools is nearly impossible.

Starting tomorrow, the three school districts in Pulaski County are taking three different approaches to learning in the omicron surge.

Last week, all three districts pivoted to having students learn remotely as COVID-19 numbers broke new records for infections and hospitalizations.

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On Wednesday, though, students in the North Little Rock School District get to choose whether to return to campus for in-person classes or to stick with online learning through Tuesday, January 18. All NLRSD students will return to school for on-site learning on Wednesday, January 19, according to a message that went out to North Little Rock School District stakeholders on Tuesday.

NLRSD students who opt to stay home will do what the district calls asynchronous instruction, meaning they will go online to complete daily assignments, but will not stream any live instruction.

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The Little Rock School District will reopen the majority of its campuses for students and teachers tomorrow, but nine schools where infection rates are still reportedly high will remain closed through this week. The LRSD schools that will be closed for the rest of the week are Booker Magnet Elementary School, Chicot Elementary School, Don Roberts Elementary School, JA Fair K8 School, Mabelvale Middle School, Pulaski Heights Middle School, Rockefeller Early Childhood Center, Southwest High School and Washington Elementary. Students and teachers at those schools will stay the course with Zoom calls and Schoology through Friday.

Pulaski County Special School District will have normal, on-campus school days for everyone beginning tomorrow.

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Any parent with an internet connection knows there’s no real consensus out there about what school administrators should be doing to ride out this COVID-19 wave. Some parents want everyone back in class with business as usual, some want everyone to hunker down in their basements for the foreseeable future.

And some parents are just confused. If that’s you, take heart in knowing that despite ongoing efforts and lots of overtime for school nurses and other health care workers, the information you need in order to not be confused anymore might not actually exist in real time. Ron Self, director of safety and security risk management with the Little Rock School District, explained the hardship of trying to get an accurate assessment of infection rates in schools. He noted that the COVID-19 dashboard the district updates on a daily basis does not necessarily tally the majority of COVID-19 cases the district is tracking.

School nurses and administrators have been working overtime tracking down reports of positive students and teachers, but they have a series of notifications and paperwork to get through before positive cases make it up on the dashboard, Self explained.

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“The numbers on the active dashboard are the cases that have been worked,” Self said in an email Tuesday. “It does not include the 400 plus and climbing cases (both students and staff) that have not been completed.”

This disheartening caveat appears on the LRSD main COVID-19 page: “**NOTE** The POC team is working diligently to process the over 400 cases that have been reported.  Please be patient with us as we work through each one and note that these numbers will continue to rise for the foreseeable future.”