Good first day for area schools

Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Parents drop off their children at school in Manila on Monday morning, which was the first day of school.

Area schools reported good first days on Monday.

Blytheville School District leaders reported have a smooth first day.

Of Blytheville’s 1,779 students enrolled in the district, 903 have chosen the virtual option.

“Things went well for the first day of school, of course we were on an abbreviated schedule,” Blytheville superintendent Bobby Ashley said. “No traffic issues but mainly because of our schedule and how many kids we had on campus. All of the students wore masks as we've made it a mandatory part of our day; 52 percent of our students are virtual at the present but that will change I'm sure. I hate that Blytheville Schools had to make a last minute call on pivoting to another schedule for parents to send their kids but data tells us that our numbers were high so we took the first week to concentrate on policy and procedures and tech support the first week.”

Manila superintendent Jason Evers said the first day of school went very well in his district too.

“Traffic was heavy in elementary but that is how it always is the first two weeks of school,” he said. “We are expecting more car riders this year due to Covid, but we are putting more people in place to handle the additional traffic. I am sure we will be making some adjustments as the week(s) go on, but that will be after things calm down a bit and after our principals are able to meet with staff for their input.”

Evers said students and staff have done a great job wearing face coverings, including while riding the buses. Right now Manila has 94 percent doing in-class instruction and only six percent doing the virtual classes.

“I am proud of how our staff has risen to the challenge, provided a safe environment and were ready day one to get back to teaching,” Evers said. “I am also proud of our students for following our safety guidelines and making sure staff and students stay as safe as possible. Our goal is to have onsite instruction for the entire year because that is where the majority of students learn best. If we have to make the decision to go to blended learning we will, but our teachers have, and are continuing to prepare for that if it is needed.”

Armorel superintendent Tiffany Morgan was also pleased with the first day.

“We had a wonderful, amazing  first day of school,” Morgan said. “We had a few little hiccups but nothing related to the Covid-19. Students and staff came in with masks and we had no problems with the social distancing. We had students having lunch in the gym.”

The Armorel elementary returned to school after a long break to a new facility and all went well. She said they were a little concerned with the change in the drop off and pick up pattern but the administrators did a good job getting the word out and the problems were much less than expected.

“The day went by fast,” Morgan said.

Armorel has about 90 percent of their students attending in school classes.

Gosnell superintendent Bonard Mace said the first day of the 2020-2021 school year was a great day.

“Our teachers were teaching and our bus drivers were on the job,” he said. “We had a good, solid day.

“We had little issues but nothing major. We did have a software problem in our system this morning and had to call Little Rock but it did not affect our in-school classes or stop our on-line studies. It created a problem with our communications. All in all it was a good day.”

Gosnell has about 27 percent of the student population utilizing the virtual learning classes.

Mace said that number could vary either way over the next two weeks. Some students may want to return to the classroom or depending on Covid-19, more may choose to do their work from home.

“We are preparing for either way,” Mace said. “Our students have stepped up and our teachers and staff are being good models and doing what they have been asked to do by our governor and the Health Department.”

Buffalo Island Central superintendent Gaylon Taylor said BIC had a pretty smooth first day.

“Our biggest issue was with devices,” he said. “ We have addressed those issues and are ready to move forward.”

The traffic was not a problem  at all for the first day of school.

Every student in the junior and senior high school came to school with their own masks.

“We continued throughout the day making sure areas were cleaned properly,” Taylor said.

BIC has about 30 percent using the virtual learning classes.

Riverside superintendent Jeff Priest said the first day of school went extremely well and he attributed that to the great  amount of planning the  faculty and staff completed the last few months.

“We had a staggered start  which meant we only had 4th-6th and 10th-12th here today (Monday),” he said. “This allowed us to implement the procedures very well. We will have 1st-3rd and 7th-9th tomorrow (Tuesday) and kindergarteners will start arriving on Wednesday. By Friday we will have K-12 all in attendance.”

There are 25 percent of Riverside’s  students enrolled in the ROC (Riverside Online Classes)  program.

“We provided all students with a mask and there were no issues at all with masks today,” he said.

“We appreciate the great amount of patience and support the Riverside community has shown us during this  unchartered territory. We truly believe with everyone working together this will be an outstanding school year.”