HPS Notes COVID-19 Reporting Change

HOPE – Hope Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart announced today the district’s COVID-19 reporting status has risen to six active cases districtwide.

“We have some 2,300 students and 350 staff, so the percentage of active cases within our district is less than one percent,” Dr. Hart said. “We, typically, do not publicly announce anything relative to active cases unless the total exceeds five, as provided by state regulation.”

Hart said the district has had three or less active cases in any given week to date. He said the rise in active cases should remind parents of the need to communicate with the Hope district.

“With the community spread, and the number of active cases in our county, it is imperative parents continue to work with us,” he said.

Bobcat Clinic Director Gretchen Carlton reminded parents that COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste and smell, vomiting and diarrhea, or stomach-related problems. Carlton said 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.

“The district policy states students with COVID-19 symptoms are to be sent home from school,” she said. “We recommend you be tested for COVID-19.”

Carlton said testing for COVID-19 is provided free to HPS students, families and staff at the Bobcat Clinic, and is also available at the Hempstead County Health Unit, the CABUN Clinic on Main Street, and through family physicians.

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.

“If you have a student who tests positive for COVID-19, please notify the school,” Carlton said.

She may be contacted at 870-331-1052 to directly report symptoms, quarantine status, positive cases or other related information.

Hart said students, both on-campus and virtual attendees, who are absent because of pending COVID-19 tests or resolution of symptoms will not be penalized.

“If parents will communicate with us why their student is absent, the absence will not count against them at all,” he said.

Hart and Carlton reminded parents and students of best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including correctly wearing a face mask, use of social distancing, and frequent hand-washing and use of hand sanitizer.

“Please, also be aware of your surroundings and try to be conscious of best practices if you are at social gatherings,” Hart said. “We do not want to risk a shutdown.”

Hart said public information on active cases in schools statewide is available under the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education tab of the Arkansas Department of Education website’s COVID-19 button. Arkansas Department of Health information is available there under the Arkansas Ready for Learning plan.

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