Lawmakers discuss back-to-school protocols and plans, athletics and extracurricular activities

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — School is starting next week and lawmakers got the chance to make sure they understood where both the Department of Education and the Department of Health were in regard to what school will look like and what the plans are.

Both Secretary of Education Johnny Key and Secretary of Health Jose Romero were questioned for a little over two hours on schools.

Much of the meeting the two men were reaffirming previous protocols that have been announced and that schools should do as best they can to implement social guidelines mask wearing for faculty and students, and schools doing their best to limit spread as much as they can through means of scheduling such as spacing out lunch and recess times.

Dr. Romero said districts will not look to test every student, but look out for those who are showing any set of symptoms of the virus, then recommend testing for that specific student.

Secretary Key emphasizing that this will not be a normal year for anyone so all of the traditional thinking and processes need to be pushed to the side to start.

“Our districts are going to be as ready, under the difficult circumstances, as they can be. Most of our districts are going into next week successfully and the ones, I keep reminding them you have a plan and I expect that at some point in the first week you’re going to have to change your plan because something is going to happen,” said Secretary of Education Johnny Key.

When asked about what would trigger a school or a district shifting to an all-virtual setting both Key and Dr. Romero said that there were no specific triggers to set that in motion or any specific metrics that will be used.

They said each situation will be looked at on a case by case basis. They say they understand the angst caused by it but they emphasize that each situation could be unique and they don’t want to shut down a school or district if it’s not fully warranted.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- Members of the Senate Committee on Education, Senate Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, House Committee on Education and House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor are meeting jointly Thursday afternoon to discuss back-to-school protocols and plans as well as athletics and extracurricular activities.

According to the agenda, lawmakers are set to discuss the CARES-funded vaccination program, back-to-school protocols and plans for reopening public schools in Arkansas, participation in school athletics and other extracurricular activities and coronavirus data analysis in school districts.

To watch the meeting live starting at 2:30 p.m., click here and click on the video icon.


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