Hope Public Schools

HPS suspends mask usage, contact tracing

by Ken McLemore

Hope Schools Communications Director

HOPE – The Hope Public Schools Board of Education voted in called session Thursday, March 31, to suspend required facemask usage on all HPS campuses and in district facilities on a week-to-week basis and to also suspend the practice of “contact tracing/quarantining” relative to COVID-19.

Both suspensions are in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance which HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley explained.

“There is some precedent to this and a number of schools have gone through this process,” Dr. Crossley said. “The CDC uses a three-tiered color-code system with green as optional, yellow as strongly recommended and red or orange as masks used indoors.”

He recommended the HPS monitor data as reported by the Arkansas Department of Health weekly and advise via social media which condition will apply on campuses and in HPS facilities until the next report.

The district will also completely suspend temperature screenings at building entrances but will recommend parents monitor students at home for 48 hours if they exhibit conditions such as fever or fever in combination with other symptom-like conditions. School nurses will also observe the 48-hour recommendation for responses to students with fever or a combination of such symptoms exhibited while at school, according to Crossley.

Parents will be asked to have students with such conditions tested for COVID-19.

Contact tracing and quarantine based upon a positive result will no longer be conducted by the HPS in keeping with announced policy for public schools from Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, Crossley said.

He said the Texarkana, Bryant, Pulaski County Special, Cabot, Rogers, Fayetteville and Springdale districts, among others, have adopted the same practices.

Also Thursday, the board voted unanimously to accept a board-to-board student transfer upon Crossley’s recommendation.

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