Central Arkansas school dealing with possible COVID-19 outbreak

Local News

MALVERN, Ark. – A school in Central Arkansas faces what could be an outbreak of COVID-19. First Step in Malvern, a school for children with disabilities, has two students and two staff members who are positive for the virus. Now, parents are pulling their kids out of school and employees are worried for their safety. The CEO of First Step says they are taking every possible precaution.

An employee at First Step, who didn’t want to be identified, said she is in quarantine after coming in contact with a student who tested positive for COVID-19.

“I’m afraid that if I have this virus it could make me very ill,” the employee said.

She said staff members were kept in the dark for weeks not finding out about any case until a post made its way around social media.

“It was kept hush hush within the installation that kids had this virus and it’s not fair to us,” the employee said.

Parents also say they should’ve known the moment a student tested positive. A concerned mother of two who also did not want to be identified said she didn’t like how the school handled the first confirmed case.

“They only told the parents of the children of that classroom. They didn’t tell the whole school,” the parent said.

She took her kids out of school a week ago because of this.

“I was just tired of it. I just completely pulled them out,” the parent said.

First Step Arkansas CEO Brett Chancellor said they only notify those who have been in direct contact with confirmed cases.

“We have a pretty complex data base where it tracks all of our clients, all of their services down to the minute and so we know where they are when they’re there and who they’re with,” Chancellor said.

He understands the concerns but said if they didn’t get a call it’s a good thing. For the employees and parents they are calling for a complete shut down.

“They need to have their school santitized, have the busses sanitized and have all the employees tested,” the employee said.

Chancellor said closing their doors all together is a temporary solution that would only harm students in the long run.

“When you start taking out weeks or months of treatment for a young developing child that takes away from them developmentally for years to come,” Chancellor said.

Chancellor said in addition to the four active positive cases, one student has recovered from the virus. He invites any parent or employee with concerns to give him a call and he will talk it through it with them.

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