Local school officials appear to have made the right moves in fighting the spread of coronavirus in the public schools, Johnny Key, state education secretary said this week.
“So, all in all we continue to have a relatively successful school year,” Key said during Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s weekly news Tuesday. “Part of that is because of the local decisions that are being made. The local school leaders, superintendents, local boards, are making good decisions regarding all of the multiple layers of mitigation strategies we have recommended.”
Key said there were 1,300 fewer virus cases in the schools statewide on Monday compared to the previous week.
“So our strategies are working,” Key continued. “I know many districts are at that point where they made decisions and said they were going to come back in 30 days and revisit those decisions. And my message to those superintendents and to those school boards are let’s keep doing what you’re doing. It is working ... with the work on getting more students and staff vaccinated when they become eligible, with the masking strategies, with the HVAC strategies – all of those things – layer upon layer of protection to make sure that we are going to have a successful school year.”
Key said active cases are down even as high school football and volleyball is in full swing.
Dr. Jose Romero, state health secretary, said 34.7 percent of students aged 12-18 are now fully vaccinated.
Hutchinson said he was pleased to see the numbers of new cases from the delta variant continuing to decline over the past couple of weeks. He said he couldn’t predict whether there would be a spike as a result of the large crowd in Fayetteville for the Razorbacks’ upset victory over Texas and the celebration that followed.
On Tuesday, the Arkansas Department of Health reported 1,544 new cases of COVID-19, but that active cases had declined by 737 statewide to 17,084.
The death toll since March 2020 rose by 36 to 7,334. Two of the deaths were attributed to Craighead County residents and one each to residents of Greene and Mississippi counties.
Greene County, with 50, had the most new cases Tuesday in Northeast Arkansas, folowed by Craighead with 44; Mississippi with 38; Randolph, 21; Poinsett, 18; Lawrence, 14; Clay, 7; Jackson, 5; and Cross, 4.
As of Monday, 50.1 percent of the state’s residents age 12 and above were fully vaccinated. Percentages for Northeast Arkansas counties were: Craighead, 42.5; Greene, 41.5; Lawrence, 42.1; Poinsett, 40; Mississippi 36; Jackson, 36.3; Randolph, 38.5; Cross, 49.1; and Clay, 42.5.