HOPE – The months of planning by administrators, faculty and staff of the Hope Public Schools to bring more than 2,200 students back to school on campus and online Monday paid off with a first day of school that saw little disruption due to COVID-19 protocols.
“I am proud of the way our students, parents, and staff have all worked together to make day one a huge success,” HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said. “Considering the circumstances, we could not have hoped for a better day.”
Dr. Hart said the key to the first day was ensuring the planning at all levels was engaged; resolving choke points; and, maintaining a semblance of normal presence on campus. Hart said, perhaps, the surprise of the day was that some students who had registered for virtual classes decided to return to on campus attendance at every campus.
“Whether virtual or on-site, there has been a feeling of relief that this day is here and that we are back to school,” he said. “Our teachers have done an amazing job of preparing and planning.”
Both on campus and Hope from Home Virtual Academy students have been issued electronic devices for class work, and all students are using the Lincoln Learning digital curriculum platform.
“Our tech department has worked hard to provide support for online and in-person learning,” Hart said.
HPS Technology Director Jeff Madlock said anticipated issues with some software and communications platforms was encountered as mechanisms such as Google Meet, Zoom, eSchool and Lincoln Learning/Buzz were under heavy user demand locally and elsewhere.
Principals on all campuses reported minimal disruptions.
“We are monitoring and adjusting according to our plan, Clinton Primary School Principal Ashlea Stewart said.
Stewart said there were positive surprises at CPS, including smooth student arrival screening, and serving student meals by grade.
At Beryl Henry Elementary School, Principal Dr. Roy Turner said he was pleased with the first day.
“This was a first for us; and, overall, it was a pretty smooth day,” Dr. Turner said.
He said student arrival screenings went smoothly, and students began to master the new protocols of COVID-19 such as face mask usage and social distancing quickly. Turner said playground usage in pods by grade worked well, as did meals service in classrooms.
Dr. Carol Ann Duke, principal at Hope Academy of Public Service, was all smiles.
“Things went really well,” Dr. Duke said. “Tech guys came over in speedy fashion to resolve device issues, car and bus line worked well, and our lunch schedule wasn’t a problem after all.”
Yerger Middle School Principal Mike Radebaugh reported a similar day, as a scattering of technical issues were resolved quickly and campus logistics flowed well.
“We worked our plan and it went smoothly,” Radebaugh said.
At Hope High School, Principal Bill Hoglund reported a minor delay because thermal scanners were not fully charged. Hoglund said some social distancing in classrooms was affected by students who opted out of virtual instruction and returned to campus Monday.
HPS Facilities/Transportation Director Maurice Henry said bus ridership was lower than anticipated for the first day.
“We have been surprised that the number was low on all buses,” Henry said.
He also noted screening of students as they boarded buses was not a disruption.
“Screening has been of little difference,” he said. “But, this is the first day.”
Bus ridership rules for the new year include:
- At the bus stop: Social distancing 6 feet apart; each rider should wear a face covering.
- At the bus door: Use hand sanitizer provided before boarding.
- Go to your seat:
>Take the open seat in rear of bus farthest from the front door.
>The Bus Driver will eventually assign seats for the year.
>The seating chart for your bus will be followed all year.
>New riders will be assigned seats as “practical and feasible.”
4. While riding the bus:
>Wear face covering the entire time.
>Keep your hands to yourself.
>Practice social distancing by staying in your assigned seat.
5. Arrive at school:
>Bus unloads one seat at a time from the front.
>Stay in your assigned seat until your turn to get off the bus.
>Wear your face covering while getting off the bus.
>Go from the bus to your assigned building entrance.
6. Returning home: Follow rules 1-5 to go home.
Students and parents are reminded that COVID-19 protocols will remain in place throughout the school year, including:
–Face masks will be worn by all students, faculty and staff during the school day on school buses and on campus. All students, faculty and staff are to be issued three cloth face masks by the end of the first day of school.
–Social distancing under the Arkansas Department of Health/CDC guideline of 6-feet apart is to be observed during all class transitions on campus.
–All students, faculty and staff will undergo temperature screening upon entry into campus buildings.
–All students have been issued school supplies and electronic devices required for their classes, whether on campus or online. Supplies and devices should not be shared.
–Breakfast and lunch meals will be provided for all students, both in virtual and on-campus settings, in the manner prescribed by district guidelines. Some students will take meals in classrooms and others will eat in the campus cafeteria. No meals may be brought to school from off-campus.