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story.lead_photo.caption Reba Holmes

PRAIRIE GROVE -- With 10 positive covid-19 cases among employees and another 30 in quarantine because of close contacts, Prairie Grove School District released a plan of action Monday to handle its current coronavirus issues.

In a letter sent out Monday, Superintendent Reba Holmes thanked parents for their patience as the district worked with the Arkansas Department of Education and Arkansas Department of Health for approval on a plan to pivot to extended virtual instruction.

According to the letter, pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle school and junior high students will have virtual instruction through Nov. 24. Students will return to on-site instruction on Nov. 30, the Monday after Thanksgiving break.

The high school will have virtual instruction through Nov. 11 and return to on-site instruction Nov. 12.

The district announced Sunday that it was switching to virtual instruction for all grade levels (kindergarten-12th grade) for three days, Nov. 9-11. The announcement was posted on the district's website and its Facebook page and district app.

According to the district, the switch was necessary due to the number of staff members who are quarantined.

"The quarantine requirements have affected the district's child nutrition staff, bus drivers, custodians, several teachers, and building level administrators," the announcement said.

The district's website now has a covid-19 dashboard that shows the number of active cases and the number of those quarantined because of covid-19.

Monday, this dashboard showed that 10.6% of the district's staff members, 30 out of 242, are being quarantined.

According to the dashboard, there are nine active student cases and 174 students in quarantine, out of a total student population of 2,065.

Holmes on Monday said most of the positive cases and those in quarantine are support staff, and the schools are not able to operate effectively with so many support staff out because of covid-19. She said the elementary school has been affected the most.

She said the high school has not been impacted as much and noted it's best for high school students to be on campus if possible because of graduation requirements and Advanced Placement classes.

Holmes said the latest issues started at the end of last week. The district announced that five of its bus routes would not run until further notice because of bus drivers being quarantined and because of a shortage of bus drivers.

"And then it just blew up all weekend," Holmes said.

She said there was no way of knowing where people are being exposed to the virus, whether it's at school or somewhere else.

"People are out everywhere now," she said.

Except for employees who are having to quarantine, teachers and other school staff will be on-site during the extended virtual instruction period.

The letter asks parents to keep their children home if they are showing symptoms of covid-19. It also encourages parents to get their children tested if they are showing any symptoms that include fever, allergies, sore throat, stomach ache.

According to the letter, the district will continue its covid-19 safety precautions: students, faculty and staff are expected to socially distance themselves and wear masks when proper distance cannot be maintained.

The letter also said that technology plans will be coordinated with each building so that students and families will have the necessary materials for virtual classes.

Holmes concludes her letter with, "Thank you for your partnership during these trying times."

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Reba Holmes

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