Arkansas school abruptly closes after two test positive for COVID-19

Local News

EARLE, Ark. — The Earle School District announced Thursday afternoon that Earle Elementary School would be closed to students indefinitely after a second person tested positive for COVID-19.

Shamika Young learned Tuesday that one of her sons would be have to stay home and learn virtually along with everyone in his grade after the first positive COVID-19 case was confirmed at Earle Elementary.

“Which is no problem. I love my children and I don’t mind them being here as opposed to some parents,” Young said.

But after a second COVID-19 case was confirmed at Earle Elementary Thursday, the district made the decision to close it to all students, and now Young’s other son will also be learning from home.

“I’m glad that they decide to shut it down before it spread worse than what it’s doing,” said Young.

Earle Superintendent Tish Knowles said coronavirus-induced staff shortages left the district with few options.

“Several of our staff members were close probable contacts,” said Knowles.

Because every close probable contact has to quarantine for 14 days, there wouldn’t have been enough teachers to teach Earle Elementary’s students, Knowles said.

The district reports no COVID-19 cases at Earle High School, but some parents aren’t taking chances.

“I just went ahead and pulled my daughter out because Earle is a small district, and if that person has it then the next person is probably gonna get it too,” said Adrian Roby.

Knowles said around 40% of the district’s students were already using the virtual learning option prior to this week’s COVID outbreak, and the district doesn’t anticipate any problems having more students use the platform.

In the meantime, the district will try to settle on a safe date to have elementary school students return.

“We’ll wait for some guidance. We want to make sure everything is clean, disinfected, ready for return, and if we have a few classes that we can bring back and we have staff in place, we will do so,” said Knowles.

Some parents say they aren’t in any rush.

“I would just keep them here. I think it’d be best for them to just keep it closed,” said Young.

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