Arkansas’ students, educators, and communities have done a great job mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the school setting this school year due to having multiple mitigation strategies in place. As a result of this dedicated and coordinated effort, Arkansas students began the school year learning onsite, and learning has continued with minimal interruptions.
As vaccines continue to become more readily available to Arkansans and data support a downward trend in the number of positive COVID cases in the state, mitigation efforts that were once state directives have been converted to guidance, effective April 1, 2021. The CDC also has updated requirements for physical distancing to allow for a minimum distance of three feet in a classroom setting. In response to these changes, districts must coordinate with their Ready for Learning Committees to review current policies and make decisions regarding how they will implement operational changes, particularly in regard to the wearing of masks and physical distancing.
To assist schools when considering policy changes, the department is updating end-of-year COVID-19 guidance to schools regarding the best practices that will continue to ensure the safety of both students and educators while supporting a strong in-person learning environment. This guidance document (available at https://bit.ly/3wa3qVe) addresses updates to the public health directives and is based on the public health situation with COVID-19 as it is understood today.