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Bentonville Schools releases guidelines for returning this fall

Bentonville Schools is giving parents a glimpse of what returning to class in fall will look like.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Bentonville Schools has released its first guidelines for returning to school this August. The guidelines include changes to the way classes will be offered, face masks, breakfast and lunch, and health screenings.

The guidelines are set for students K-12. An option of blended or virtual school will be offered. 

"Blended is the new "traditional school" where students will report to school buildings to learn but both teachers and students will be prepared to learn at home if illness or inclement weather necessitates. Virtual learning is a parent choice where students learn remotely full-time. If you choose Bentonville Schools Virtual, your student cannot return to Blended until the completion of that semester and will be assigned to your zone school if space is available. We'll not offer a college setting schedule in which students report to school for three days and learn remotely for two days. We recognize the incredible challenge for childcare that might present," Bentonville Schools said in a note to parents.

Parents will receive an email on July 1 to select blended or virtual learning for their student(s).

Face coverings will be required for staff and students (fourth grade and above) when they return to school. Where social distancing is possible, face coverings may be removed. 

The following guidelines were released concerning face masks:

  • All students (fourth grade and above) and staff will wear a face covering when riding a school bus or district transportation. Face coverings are recommended for students under grade four since physical distancing will not be feasible.  
  • All students (fourth grade and above) and staff wear face masks when physical distancing of six feet is not possible. (School entry, exit, classroom, hall passing, bathroom).
  • If students maintain physical distancing on the playground, face coverings will not be required. 
  • Students and staff may remove the face covering while eating meals or snacks.
  • Staff and presenters may remove face coverings while teaching if 12 feet distancing is maintained.
  • Face coverings should not be used on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious; or anyone who is incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.

Breakfast and lunch will still be served at Bentonville Schools but under the following guidelines:

  • Breakfast and lunch will be served in a combination of the cafeteria at 50% capacity and in the classroom. Physical spacing will be organized for both areas with proper markings to show where to line up and sit. Students will alternate between eating in their classroom and cafeteria on assigned days.  
  • Proper sanitation of all areas will be completed after each meal.
  • Procedures will not allow students to pick up utensils, self-serve, or share food. Parents are strongly encouraged to open an online payment for student meals here so cash is not exchanged.
  • Please send a water bottle with your child as water fountains will not be available.

Bentonville Schools is relying on parents to monitor their student's health. 

  • Parents will be expected to screen their children using this tool prior to entering any school bus or building.
  • All staff and visitors entering the building will be screened prior to entering the facility/bus.
  • Entry to the building will be limited to admit only essential business. 

Mom Katrina Langham says she's thankful in-person learning will be an option for the upcoming school year.

"I’m really relieved that I’m not going to have to continue to be a teacher in the fall, I was grossly inadequate and ill-prepared,” she said.

Stephen Goss leads the district COVID-19 task force and says parents will have the option to send their kids to school in person or virtually.

Langham says she doesn't think the masks and social distancing requirements will be too big of an issue.

“I think kids will have an easier time getting kids to wear the masks than they will the grown-ups," she said. "I know that my older daughter is going to have a challenge not hugging her friends all the time especially after this big time-lapse but I think they are going to be ok.”

More information on returning to school and what it will look like will be provided by Bentonville Schools in the following weeks as a task force approves changes. You may submit questions to the task force related to school opening here

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