Arkansas Schools to Remain Closed
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced last week that all Arkansas public schools will remain closed for onsite instruction through April 17 due to the increasing spread of COVID-19 across the state. He indicated the decision to close schools will be re-evaluated in a few weeks based on public health conditions at that time.
With this latest announcement, the Arkansas Department of Education is expanding the use of Alternative Methods of Instruction days during this additional three-week period, which will begin after this week's scheduled Spring Break. Under the authority granted by Governor Hutchinson’s amended emergency proclamation, the department is waiving the 10-day limit on AMI days, with the department automatically approving the additional 15 days for each district.
“I trust that educators and parents will understand this is not perfect, but we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,” ADE Secretary Johnny Key said. “While the suspension of onsite instruction is necessary to protect our students, the extension of AMI is a responsible way to continue education delivery. I have been encouraged and inspired this week by the creativity we have seen from teachers in posting engaging lessons and activities for their students across a variety of platforms. I appreciate the efforts of our educators, and I look for this dedication and creativity to continue as we work through this difficult time."
Districts that have the capacity to plan for and deliver additional instruction allowed through their AMI plans may continue to do so. For districts with limited capacity, ADE is working in partnership with Arkansas PBS to develop AMI lessons and resources for students in grades K-8. ADE also is working with Virtual Arkansas and the Arkansas Public School Resource Center to develop options for students in grades 9-12.
Currently, local districts are continuing to operate under the AMI system and will be approving additional day plans in the future. It was also noted that the state has waived the requirement for mandated testing for the remainder of this year, and Key has indicated that seniors in good standings entering the third quarter of the year should qualify for graduation—although it's unclear when, or if, public graduation ceremonies will be allowed.