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Number of Arkansas students quarantining takes toll on in-person class

Because of more Arkansas students quarantining due to positive COVID-19 cases, filled seats in the classroom over the past few weeks have dwindled.

LONOKE COUNTY, Ark. — Monday, Aug. 30 marked the start of the third week of classes here in Arkansas and school districts are already changing their COVID-19 policies.

Some are opting to require masks and some are not.

At Lonoke School District, students and staff are showing up to school today with masks on. It's the first time they've been required since the start of the school year. 

The reason for the change was because of reports of positive COVID-19 cases, but more so, the amount of students having to quarantine keeps adding up.

"We feel like what is the most important thing for us is that our students learn best when they're in the classroom," said Jeff Senn, the superintendent for the Lonoke School District.

Because of more students quarantining, the number of filled seats in the classroom over the past few weeks has kept shrinking.

"When you start talking about the number of kids that are going to be out of school, 3% of your population is quite a bit," Senn said.

The Lonoke School District had 6 positive COVID cases and 48 students quarantined, as of Monday morning. 

Of those six cases, two were from the elementary school, one was from the middle school and three came from the high school. 

"As of right now, we have no teachers that have tested positive and no teachers that are quarantined. So these are just students," Senn said.

But it's only about who is affected, it's how many.

If quarantines and cases go above 50, masks must be on. If below, it's optional.

The district's nurse supervisor, Leah Robinson, believes masks should be required but she's comfortable with the number 50 because it's 3% of the population. 

"It's kind of is a happy medium for everyone because we're so split in this, not just in Lonoke, but statewide and in our country," Robinson said.

Although the actual case numbers are low, Robinson said it's too early to make any predictions on how the school year will go. 

"We'll have to see. We know that the numbers are high in Arkansas and we're worried about kids more this year than we were last year."


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