COVID-19 Reporting Remains Vital

Ken McLemore

HOPE – With athletics activities in the Hope Public Schools and statewide affected by a resurgence of the COVID-19 virus, Hope Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said today parents must remain vigilant in reporting quarantine status and positive cases to the school district.

“Our basketball activities are suspended until Dec. 28,” Dr. Hart said. “The incidence of COVID-19 within Hempstead County generally after the Thanksgiving break makes vigilance on the part of parents more important than ever with the upcoming Christmas holiday break.”

With some 2,300 students and 350 staff districtwide, the HPS has been affected by the quarantine requirements involved with COVID-19 rather than the spread of the virus itself, Hart said.

He said while only eight positive cases are currently confirmed among Hope High School students and 10 staff cases have been reported, the impact has resulted in the quarantine of some 150 students.

“Please do not send students to school who exhibit any symptoms of COVID-19,” he said.

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COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, vomiting and diarrhea, or stomach-related problems. Students who exhibit any combination of those symptoms should be kept at home until they no longer exhibit symptoms for a period of 48 hours.

Hart emphasized students who attend classes on campus but are quarantined or absent because they have tested positive for COVID-19 will not be penalized for their absence from school.

“If parents will notify us about the absence, it will not count against the student at all,” he said.

Students are allowed to return to school on-campus under the following conditions:

–If a student is tested and the district receives a copy of the negative test result and the student has been without symptoms for 48 hours.

–If a student has tested positive for COVID-19, he/she may return to campus once the district has received a release letter from the Arkansas Department of Health.

–If a student is symptomatic and has not been tested, he/she may return to school 10 days from the date the student was sent home as long as he/she shows no fever (temperature under 100) for 72 hours, and other symptoms have improved.

 “Please, be aware of your surroundings and use best practices of hand washing, mask usage and social distancing,” Hart said. “And, if you have a student who shows symptoms of COVID-19, please have them tested immediately and notify your child’s school.”

Bobcat Clinic Director Gretchen Carlton is the official “point of contact” for the HPS for reporting of COVID-19 activity in the school district to the state health department, he said. She may be contacted at 870-331-1052 to report symptoms, quarantine status, or positive cases.

All HPS students and their families are eligible for free COVID-19 testing through the Bobcat Clinic at Hope High School, and is also available to the public at the Hempstead County Health Unit and CABUN Medical Clinic on Main Street.

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