HOPE – Data collected through a regional survey developed for the school districts in the Southwest Arkansas Education Cooperative service area helped the Hope Public Schools Board understand Monday night the factors that will be involved in returning to school in the fall post-COVID-19.
HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said the survey has elicited 259 responses to date, which represents a minimum of about 10 percent of the HPSD enrollment, based upon a minimum of one student per respondent family.
“I’m very pleased with the response,” Dr. Hart said. “I want their input; we aren’t going to make decisions that are off the wall, and we want to include them.”
He said the data collected will help district administration, campus principals, teachers, and district stakeholders understand the factors necessary to develop a re-entry plan for the fall. Hart said the district is attempting to be inclusive of all its constituencies in developing a plan to present to the board, likely in July.
Board members expressed a desire to push the survey out further through social networks such as local churches and providing hard copies at public venues such as the county library.
“Right now, any facts I give you will be fluid,” Hart said. “But, I can assure you we will provide every child a safe environment; we have tried to brainstorm every possibility.”
While responses allowed for the possibility of a multiple students enrolled at different campuses from the same family, the bulk of the responses reflected students who will be enrolled at Clinton Primary School and Hope High School in the fall, according to the data.
Approximately 40 percent of all respondents were “comfortable” with having their student(s) return to campuses that are open in the fall, while about 23 percent said they would opt for online instruction if campuses were open. About five percent said they would prefer their elementary school student(s) remain home, but were “comfortable” sending older students to on-campus instruction.
A positive for the district was represented in the internet connectivity of HPS families, with almost 80 percent having internet access at home, according to the data.
And, about 70 percent of respondents felt capable of helping their student(s) strengthen their ability to read, while about 55 percent felt capable of helping their student(s) with math. But, about 65 percent said they felt “comfortable” with online learning software, but about 58 percent said they did not have familiarity with any interactive software.
Hart said one of the key components in developing a plan for the district is the capability to provide transportation; but, that a majority of respondents to the survey said they were able to provide transportation if state guidance does not allow school buses to be operated.
He said the Arkansas Department of Education has offered general guidance to date, but no definitive directives beyond the need to develop local plans.