Breaking News
More () »

Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Bentonville parents must choose between virtual and blended learning for students

Parents of students at Bentonville Public Schools have until Jully 22 to choose between blended or virtual learning.

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — UPDATE: The deadline for parents to choose between in-person and virtually classes this fall has been extended to July 22. If you do not wish
to change your initial response, no action is needed 

Parents of students at Bentonville Public Schools have one more day to decide whether they want their kids to attend classes in person or virtually for the upcoming fall semester.

Tuesday (July 7) they had a chance to hear answers to questions they have from the superintendent.

The virtual option looks a lot like it did in the spring, while the blended option is on campus with safety measures in place such as mask requirements and social distancing.

“It is traditional school but it's so we’re ready to transition if there’s a crisis. If I must close the school because we have an outbreak," said Debbie Jones Bentonville Public Schools Superintendent.

Kimberly Gonzales, a mother of three, says it was an easy choice to make.

“Last year when she did virtual her GPA actually went down. She had a 3.5 GPA. She had a lot of issues with the online classes," Gonzales said.

Live Q&A with Dr. Debbie Jones

Bentonville Schools extended the deadline for parents to decide between blended or virtual learning for the fall semester. That decision must be submitted to the school district by Wednesday, July 8th. Our first interview with Bentonville Schools Superintendent Dr. Debbie Jones was so well received, we've invited her back for a second round of questions. Once again, Bentonville parents are encouraged to submit their questions in the comments below or to dana@dwtnmedia.com. We will try to get as many questions answered as possible! Before asking a question, please refer to our first interview, which covered blended vs. virtual vs. crisis learning, student health concerns, masks, and safety procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://www.downtownbentonville.org/media-story/bentonville-schools-superintendent-answers-your-questions Another great source of information is the updated Q&A page on Bentonville School's website: https://www.bentonvillek12.org/Page/24313

Posted by Downtown Bentonville Inc. on Tuesday, July 7, 2020

While her two younger kids will stay home, Aaliyha Pruitt, her oldest daughter will return to campus for her senior year of high school.

“My mom consulted me about it which made me happy. It wasn’t just a straight-up her decision choice," Pruitt said.

Tanya Prince’s 15-year-old son faced similar challenges and they have also chosen the blended option.

“He wants to be with his friends, with his teachers, he wants to be out of the house. That was important to him," Prince said.

One of the biggest questions parents have is about mask wearing. The school administration will be recommending to the school board that masks be required when social distancing is not possible.

"We know that’s not going to be possible on school buses, so that’s wearing a face mask from the time you get on to the time you get off," Jones said.

According to Jones, once a parent makes a final decision, changing their mind during the middle of the semester might be difficult.

"We will intentionally build in face mask breaks throughout the day. We don’t want to be militant through the process. We want to be safe and we want to protect our students," Jones said.

The face mask recommendation will be presented to the school district's COVID-19 task force later this week.

Then the decision will be brought before the school board for approval when it meets again on July 21.

Video and interviews were provided by Downtown Bentonville Inc.

RELATED: Arkansas sees largest single-day increase in hospitalizations

RELATED: Bentonville Schools releases guidelines for returning this fall