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It has been a month since the start of the school year, this is how Arkansas schools managed the education process amid the latest Delta wave

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Arkansas – Arkansas is seeing the strongest Covid-19 wave since January despite the fact that many people are already vaccinated and decent number have already been infected with the virus, something that was not the case in January.

What is also different not compared to January is that students returned to in-person learning since the start of the school year a month ago. Since then, it has been a real challenge for schools to maintain in-person teaching amid high number of daily Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

The Delta wave forced some students and schools to switch to virtual learning to slow down the spread of the virus, while some schools decided to continue with the in-person learning and prevented mass quarantines.

According to Clarksville school district Superintendent Dr. David Hopkins, their school board’s decision on a mask mandate was not well received, but he believes it has kept students safe in school.

“A lot of students have avoided being quarantined because they were wearing masks,” Hopkins said.

Arkansas Department of Health in a statement said that they are happy how the school districts across Arkansas maintain the Covid-19 situation so far.

The number of positive cases among students K-12 was pretty high when students initially returned in schools aligning with overall state numbers, but the cases currently are much lower and the ADH is seeing a decrease in general, Dr. Joel Tumlinson with the department of health said.

“On the 6th the school report showed 4,833 school associated cases, that’s mostly students but that would also include staff,” Tumlinson said. “On yesterday’s report from the 16th, there’s now 3,334. That’s a definite improvement.”

As of now, only three school districts in Central Arkansas are seeing high number of cases, but those are the only ones in such situation, while all the other districts maintain stable situation.

Cabot School District has the most active cases (90), the second school district with most active cases is Bryant with 64 and the third with 58 active cases is Little Rock School District.

Another thing that also helped in stabilizing the overall situation across the Arkansas schools is the improvement in vaccination rates. According to the ADH, 35.5 percent of students aged between 12-18 are fully vaccinated, and 11.9 are partially vaccinated.

According to Hopkins, earlier this month 169 students had to quarantine due to exposure outside of the district compared to 22 students inside the district. He said without the mask, there would’ve been a mass quarantine in their district of 2,500 students.

“Outside of those numbers we have an exemption of students of up to 720 students that would have been quarantined had they not had their mask on,” he said.

Those school districts that decided to implement a mask mandate in schools were provided masks free of charge, something that also helped in slowing down the spread of the virus in schools, he added.

Officials with the department said they are hoping to fully vaccinate 50 percent of students ages 12 to 18 by the end of this year. They also said officials by early next year to have the authorization to vaccinate children under the age of 12.

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