(KTAL/KMSS) – As the start of the 2021-22 school year approaches, KTAL/KMSS is tracking the reopening plans of all 72 public school districts in the ArkLaTex viewing area.
With COVID-19 cases on the rise around the ArkLaTex and across the country, parents may be wondering whether school will start on time and what plans are in place. So far, only one district has delayed the start of school. More than a third of the districts have released plans for the return to in-person instruction. Most of the plans released so far have aligned with state and federal guidelines, which the CDC adjusted in late July, citing new information about the variant’s ability to spread among vaccinated people
Where the CDC guidance originally said masks should be worn indoors by all individuals (age 2 and older) who are not fully vaccinated, the guidance now recommends masks be worn indoors by all, even those who are vaccinated. The guidance specifically includes all teachers, staff, students, and visitors at schools nationwide, regardless of vaccination status.
The CDC guidance for schools and child care programs still says returning to in-person instruction in the fall is a priority, calling vaccination the leading public health prevention strategy to end the pandemic. The guidance also still recommends schools continue to maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms to help reduce transmission risk.
Currently, children as young as 12 can get the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Researchers are studying the effectiveness and safety of the Moderna vaccine in those six months to 11 years of age.
Southwest Arkansas schools COVID-19 reopening plans
The Texarkana Arkansas School District says all students will return to the classroom on August 17 for face-to-face learning this fall. Masks will not be required. The TASD school system says its guidelines align closely with CDC and Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) guidance recommendations.
Northwest Louisiana schools COVID-19 reopening plans
In Louisiana, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is leaving COVID-19 related guidance up to local school districts for the upcoming school year. Current Louisiana Department of Education Ready for Learning school operational guidelines align with Louisiana Department of Health recommendations that all unvaccinated individuals aged five and up wear a face mask.
On Wednesday, a statewide mask order will go into effect in Louisiana by order of Gov. John Bel Edwards. School districts have been adjusting their guidance to comply with the order, which includes students and staff in public schools, including Bossier, Caddo, and De Soto parishes.
East Texas schools COVID-19 reopening plans
In Texas, Gov. Gregg Abbot has said kids won’t be forced by the government or school to wear masks when school starts in the fall. View Texas Education Agency COVID-19 guidance here.
In Marshall, classes resume August 12 and students will receive blended instruction, which involves some direct instruction by the teacher and some online instruction in a blended model designed to allow for continuity in moving to all-virtual instruction if necessary.
Queen City schools in Bowie County will also be returning to face-to-face instruction on August 12, with contingency plans in place to move to virtual or hybrid instruction if that becomes necessary.
McCurtain County schools COVID-19 reopening plans
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) are strongly recommending non-vaccinated individuals to continue to wear masks in indoor spaces where physical distancing is not possible. In McCurtain County, Broken Bow, Denison, Valliant, and Haworth schools will be following this guidance.
Check out the interactive map below to see information specific to your district. If your school district has released its plan but you do not see it here, let us know!
As cases continue to rise around the state, parents should continue to monitor their child’s school website as some of these dates and plans can be subject to change.