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All local school districts to continue virtual instruction today, citing road conditions

by Caitlan Butler | February 21, 2021 at 6:00 p.m.
Roads were still covered in snow-ice slush Sunday afternoon, though parts of the asphalt did show through for the first time in about a week. Local school districts announced Sunday that they would continue virtual learning today to ensure student safety. (Caitlan Butler/News-Times)

Local school districts have all announced plans to continue virtual learning today, citing hazardous road conditions from the winter weather seen throughout the county last week.

Jim Tucker, El Dorado School District superintendent, said schools in the district will be closed to on-site instruction, and district officials will continue to assess conditions for Tuesday.

“While we look forward to having students back on campus, the health and safety of our students and staff remain our top priority,” Tucker said in a text message to the News-Times Sunday afternoon. “Be safe, stay warm and have fun!”

Kimberly Thomas, Strong-Huttig School District superintendent, also noted the boil order much of Strong is currently under as a reason the SHSD will continue virtual learning today.

“Many of the county roads in the rural areas still have a significant amount of snow and ice; as the temperatures warm the road conditions will improve,” she said in an email to the News-Times. “Additionally, the city of Strong is currently under a boil order, and major water repairs are scheduled, these repairs may cause additional interruptions in the water supply for the residents of Strong.”

She said she had spoken to Strong Mayor Daryell Howell and they hope the water issue, caused by a main break at Strong Waterworks on Friday, will be resolved soon.

“We are hopeful that these issues will be cleared up, the water samples will be tested, the water pressure and interruptions will be resolved, the road conditions will improve, and we can return for onsite instruction as soon as safely possible,” she said.

The Parkers Chapel School District, in a post on its website, announced that it would also transition to virtual learning today due to the road conditions. Students should log on to Google Classroom for assignments, and teachers will be available by email from 7:45 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

A meeting of the Smackover-Norphlet School Board originally scheduled for this afternoon has been postponed to Thursday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the Hobgood Auditorium. The district announced in a post on the Buckaroo Blog Sunday afternoon that it will also be closed to on-site instruction today.

SNSD students who would typically attend class in-person should complete their fifth day AMI (Alternative Methods of Instruction) packet, which must be turned in for a grade when on-site instruction resumes. Those who are not able to complete the assignments due to power or internet outages will be given an extended deadline.

Virtual students should continue their BUZZ assignments if in Kindergarten through fifth grade and their APEX assignments if in sixth through 12th grade. Students enrolled in virtual courses through South Arkansas Community College or Virtual Arkansas should complete assignments there if possible, according to the Blog post.

The Junction City School District also announced that all students would utiltize virtual learning today in a post Sunday afternoon on its Facebook page. The district office will be open during regular school hours today, and building offices will be open after 9 a.m., the post says.

“We fully expect a normal school day Tuesday,” the post said.

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