JONESBORO, Ark- Jonesboro’s MacArthur Junior High School first switched to virtual learning last Wednesday due to the high number of students needing to be quarantined steaming from positive COVID-19 cases.
Now, they will continue remote learning after another positive case.
“Thursday evening, I guess we had another positive and, then another 20 students had to go quarantine,” says Assistant Superintendent for the Jonesboro Public Schools William Cheatham. “So, Friday morning we, made the decision to go remote this week though I believe it’s October 2nd, this Friday. We did that because now our percentage of kids was almost 40% at home."
Cheatham says the positive COVID cases that made them originally go virtual last week were unrelated but caused 132 of their 474 students to quarantine.
Cheatham says with a big percentage offsite already, it was putting a strain on staff.
“Of 20 kids, you’ve got maybe 12 on-site and, you’re having 8 remotes at the same time,” Cheatham says. “It was putting a lot of stress on our teachers.”
Cheatham says with waiting until next Monday to head back to the classroom would be staggered and ensure that students would be out of quarantine.
He says there are a few pros: after just one day of remote learning all but, 14 students logged into class.
Cheatham says their teachers are happy, saying this is the first time they’ve seen their entire class at once while teaching a lesson this school year, even if it’s virtual.
Moving forward, Cheatham says they are getting creative to offer more social distancing.
“They actually went back and looked at some other creative ways. One being if you’ve got a large class is there another space say the library, cafeteria if it’s not occupied,” he says. “To move that large class to spread students out. They’ve worked on a good game plan so, when students come back October 5th, we hope to spread some students out when there are some classes that are oversized.”
Cheatham says in addition to students sanitizing their hands before and after class, cleaning rooms in between classes, the building is disinfected each night.
He says since last Tuesday, they have even increased their cleaning even more and that will carry through this week.
While every situation is different, if another student does test positive for COVID, there’s a possibility virtual learning could extend.
He also wants to remind parents that all extracurricular and after school activities are canceled this week.