Gov. closes schools through April 17; Blytheville School District postpones prom

Friday, March 20, 2020

On Thursday, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that schools would remain closed at least through April 17 in response to the coronavirus threat.

Local schools were out last week and this week is spring break.

Blytheville High School has postponed prom.

"It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that the BHS Prom will not be held as scheduled on April 25,” Blytheville superintendent Bobby Ashley said. “With the social distancing orders set in place and direction from the Governor, students will not be able to go out and get their clothing items and accessories needed for the Prom because stores are not opened, and we are not able to get the decorations in and put together because school is closed."

Ashley said the district’s leadership team met to coordinate moving forward to April 17 and even past that if needed.

“Plans are to continue feeding our students after Spring Break unless we are under strict quarantine,” Mr. Ashley said. “I want to express my appreciation to our staff and leadership team at Blytheville for being so innovative in our plans all based on meeting our students’ needs.”

Gosnell superintendent Bonard Mace said information is subject to change on a daily basis but as of now Arkansas schools will be closed until through April 17. The week after spring break will begin 6-10 AMI (alternative method of instruction) days.

Mr. Mace said they started creating and developing online instruction about a month ago and hopefully it will be ready to roll out the week after.

“We do ask for patience with us as we are starting something new,” Mr. Mace said. “Our goal is to continue education for our students who will be out of the classroom for another month.”

He said at this time no final decisions have been made on any upcoming activities.

“This is unprecedented and we will use good judgment,” he said. “We have a good Department of Education and good leaders.”

He went on to say they will try to continue to take care feeding the students. This week on the first day they served 200 meals, on the second day 350 and on the third day 669.

“We are hoping to continue with lunches after spring break but we will have to look at supplies and see if we can get more supplies,” Mr. Mace said. “If at all possible, we will continue feeding students.”

Manila Superintendent Jason Evers responded to the recent announcement of the extended days out of school as well.

“We had 10 AMI days for the year and we have exhausted 5 of them as of Thursday, March 19,” Mr. Evers said. “The state has now referenced more AMI days to get schools through the April 17th date. Our teachers are preparing more AMI lessons for students to complete for the extended time.”

“We served breakfast and lunch everyday this week at four different locations,” he continued. “The community and food pantry were very generous and helped with additional food that we were able to distribute to families to use over spring break. We will have a plan in place for food distribution after the break, and communicate it to our families before the break ends.  We are mindful of the upcoming events such as prom, graduation and school trips, and the uncertainty surrounding them.  We will make decisions regarding those questions as we get closer to the scheduled dates. However, we will not cancel any event unless it becomes our only option.”

Buffalo Island Central superintendent Gaylon Taylor said with the additional days out of school, AMI days are extended to a total of 10 so far.

“We will continue to feed students this week and after spring break,” Mr. Taylor said. “All activities are postponed at this time until we have more information.”

Mr. Taylor encourages all BIC  students who need a lunch to pick one up at the drop off sites.

Armorel School District superintendent Tiffany Morgan said school will remain closed through Friday, April 17.

“As we move forward through these unconventional times, teachers will be meeting and addressing instructional procedures,” Ms. Morgan said. “Plans regarding upcoming school activities/events (prom, graduation, etc.) will continue and rescheduling will proceed as needed. Students are to continue completing AMI assignments. Although next week is spring break, we will keep everyone updated via our District website and Facebook page. Please be safe and continue to monitor our communication here for further updates.”

Riverside superintendent Jeff Priest said, “This is a very fluid situation that is changing by the minute rather than by the day. We are following the direct guidance of the Governor's office and the Arkansas Department of Education. Per the recommendation, at this moment the AMI days will be extended through April 17th.”

“We will not be feeding during spring break but it will start back up again on March 30th,” he continued. “Food is being delivered to the city halls at Caraway and Lake City and can be picked up from 11:00-12:30.”

Riverside prom was scheduled to be at the Cooper Alumni Center at ASU on April 17. However, ASU has cancelled all events through the end of April.

“We are postponing prom at this time and will continue to monitor the situation and explore alternative options,” Mr. Priest said.

“We appreciate everyone's cooperation during this very difficult situation. Our main focus is the well being of our students, faculty, staff, and community. We will update information after spring break through our social media platforms and district website.”