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Local school districts to continue virtual learning Monday

by Caitlan Butler | February 21, 2021 at 1:27 p.m.

Several local school districts have announced plans to continue virtual learning Monday, Feb. 22, 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 Monday, and the district will continue to assess conditions for the following day.

“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. “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 Monday.

“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 will also transition to virtual learning Monday 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 Monday has been postponed to Thursday, Feb. 25, at 5:30 p.m. in the Hobgood Auditorium. On Sunday morning, the district said it would be monitoring road and weather conditions throughout the day and would make a decision on whether to have in-person school Monday this afternoon.

The Junction City School District, in a post on its Facebook page, said it would make an announcement about whether the district will have on-site instruction Monday at 6 p.m. Sunday evening.

The News-Times will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

UPDATE 1:30 p.m. In a post on the Buckaroo Blog, the Smackover-Norphlet School District announced that it will be closed for on-site instruction Monday and students should instead utilize virtual learning.

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.

UPDATE 4:30 p.m.

The Junction City School District announced in a post on its Facebook page that students should utilize virtual instruction Monday. 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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