JONESBORO — Although COVID-19 cases are a bit higher for some schools than they were before Christmas break, the number of those in quarantine are lower.
Christian Smiley, COVID-19 point of contact for Valley View School District, said the district has seen more positive COVID-19 cases since returning from Christmas break.
“We do have a few more positive (cases) with (students),” she said, noting they were due to traveling during the break. “... Because they contracted it during the break, we are seeing less in quarantine due to close contact.”
Valley View, as of Thursday, had a total of 17 positive COVID-19 cases, 86 students in quarantine, and 33 teachers testing positive for COVID-19. “The number changes every day,” Smiley said.
She said the students seem to be taking the COVID-19 illness seriously. “They are aware of how dangerous it can be, and are taking the precautions, socially distancing, and wearing masks appropriately,” she said.
Nettleton Assistant Superintendent Grace Peterson said the district has also seen an increase in numbers since returning from Christmas break. As of this week, Peterson said they have a total of 18 students who have tested positive, 115 quarantined, 11 employees that have tested positive, and 12 in quarantine.
Peterson said the first semester of the school they had to close two different buildings.
“We closed Fox Meadows School of Creative Media, and we closed Fox Meadow Elementary,” she said. “Our closures were due to the fact that we could not staff those buildings.”
Peterson said the closures are impacting students.
“I feel like the inconsistency with the instruction has been a struggle. You might be a student in quarantine for so many days, then turn around and come back and your teacher be in quarantine,” she said.
School officials are aware that Phase 1b is right around the corner, which is when educators will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccination. “We just sent out a survey Friday morning and so far more than half of the staff has said ‘yes’ they are going to take the vaccination,” Peterson said.
Jonesboro Public Schools has also had its struggles with COVID-19 said Jonesboro Public School Assistant Superintendent William Cheatham said.
“MacArthur went to remote virtual learning at the beginning of the year, but it was the only school that went fully remote,” he said.
Cheatham said the school has been fortunate to see steady numbers with very little increase. The school currently has 17 to 20 staff who have been in quarantine and four or five who have tested positive for COVID-19. Cheatham said there were 30 students in quarantine.
According to the Arkansas Department of Health report on COVID-19 cases in educational institutions, the Jonesboro school district has 18 active cases.
Jonesboro, like Nettleton School District, is preparing for the next phase of the Arkansas Department of Health’s vaccination plan.
“We are developing a plan and putting information together for our staff, sending out a survey and asking if they are willing to take the vaccination,” he said.
Cheatham said when the district obtains the numbers, the administration will make a plan.
“We will make a plan based on what we know, and we don’t know much,” he said.
Although an attempt was made to contact both Westside and Brookland School Districts, neither responded.