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COVID-19 takes toll on Texarkana Arkansas school district


TEXARKANA, Ark. (KTAL/KMSS) – Texarkana Arkansas School District officials say students are adapting to the constant COVID-19 changes, but the pandemic is taking a toll on teachers and staff.

“The virtual kids and the blended kids thought oh well we’ll just stay home. But, it just seemed like it was a struggle for them and more and more students just started coming back to school,” said TASD Superintendent, Dr. Becky Kesler.

With more kids returning to the classroom, there’s a higher chance of positive COVID-19 cases rising. In fact, since Thanksgiving break, the district is noticing an upward trend in confirmed cases.

“As soon as you think you’ve got a class set, you know, all of a sudden you’re having to quarantine a certain number of students or you may have to quarantine the teacher,” said Kesler.

On top of all that, Dr. Kesler says the increased workload has caused many teachers to resign due to stress. The number of teacher absences in the district has nearly tripled compared to last fall. She says it’s a struggle now to retain substitute teachers.

“Now, we never have enough subs. There’s always – we have to pull teachers or some of our specialty teachers.”

Kesler says virtual Wednesdays are a lifesaver for teachers. There are four on-site days and one day dedicated to online learners.

“I would say about a month, I think, our teachers were almost at a breaking point because they were teaching three different pathways. It was just causing them to have to work day and night trying to keep up.”

Kesler says overcoming multiple obstacles this semester is preparing them for the unexpected. In the event of a spike in COVID-19 cases following Christmas break, the district is prepared to go completely virtual.

The district currently has seven positive cases and 64 students and staff quarantined.

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