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Hope schools extend virtual learning because of COVID-19

by Andrew Bell | January 7, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

HOPE, Ark. -- The Hope Public School District announced Thursday the extension of its pivot to virtual instruction through Wednesday.

Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley said in a news release students will return to school for face-to-face instruction beginning Thursday.

The district made the decision based upon guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Arkansas Department of Education. HPS announced on Wednesday that this move would be through Friday, Jan. 7, but has now extended it through Jan. 12.

According to the Department of Health, HPS has eight active COVID-19 cases and has had 76 cumulative cases since Aug. 1, 2021. Of those 76, 55 are student cases.

The Ashdown, Spring Hill and Genoa districts have just as many or more active cases as Hope.

Crossley said the pivot period will be used to monitor impact numbers, and he outlined guidance regarding vaccination and vaccination boosting that will apply beginning Jan. 12.

"If you have not received a booster shot for COVID-19, you will need to receive a booster to be considered fully vaccinated," he said.

Maximum effectiveness timelines to receive a booster after initial vaccination vary as follows: Moderna, six months; Pfizer, five months; and Johnson and Johnson, two months.

"The booster shot will allow the quarantine timeline to be 5 days instead of 7, 10 or 14 days," Crossley said. "As the ADH discussed with us today, there is a distinct difference in the effects of the COVID-19 omicron variant between boosted and unboosted persons."

Crossley said additional guidance includes:

• If a staff member or student tests positive for COVID-19, a 10-day isolation period will be applied.

• If both parties are wearing a mask, exposed individuals do not have to quarantine. This highlights the importance of wearing masks correctly.

• Any student or staff member who has been quarantined on, or before, Jan. 7 is eligible to return to class on Thursday. This applies only to quarantined individuals.

The Bobcat Clinic will host a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for HPS students ages 5 years and older on Wednesday. Students must register with the Bobcat Clinic, and a completed registration packet is required prior to vaccination, according to Bobcat Clinic Director Gretchen Carlton.

A vaccination consent form must also be completed prior to vaccination.

Vaccination appointments may be arranged by calling 870-722-2733, option 2, during regular clinic hours. Student meals for the extended pivot period will be available Monday in the bus line at Yerger Middle School from noon to 2 p.m.

"If your child has COVID-19 symptoms, please keep them home," Crossley said. "If you are exposed to COVID-19 and are required to quarantine, please stay home. This will allow us to combat rising numbers in our district."

The Gazette has not been made aware of any other announcements from local schools about campus closings or extending virtual learning time periods as of Friday afternoon.

Print Headline: Hope schools extend virtual learning because of COVID-19

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