SPRINGDALE, Ark. — It's day two of back to school in Arkansas and many districts now know what is working in the classroom and what will need to be changed during the coronavirus pandemic.
At Central Junior High in Springdale students and teachers say so far it's been a successful week. They say they're looking forward to keeping this school year going.
“We one wayed our halls, we separated our lunches. Every single student wore a mask and no one had to be told to keep it on all day,” said teacher Thomas Pittman.
Pittman has been a teacher in Arkansas for over 40 years and says he's seen several changes during his career, but nothing like this.
“The kids just cooperated so perfectly, I had to, I’m not kidding to ‘okay is this real?'"
Around 87% of kids in the Springdale School District, the largest district in the state, returned for in-person learning. With fewer students on campus, they say it's easier to spread out and social distance.
“At lunch whenever you’re eating there’s lots of social distancing going on, people were sitting multiple seats away from each other and I just felt like it was a really great method and it was going really well,” said 9th-grade student Bridger Hastons.
Hastons says besides the face mask and other safety protocols, it felt like a normal school day.
“I felt safe because all the teachers, they really care about you they’re doing their best to make sure that you are safe,” Hastons said.
Other classmates like Haila Leake said she chose to go to school in-person five days a week.
“I just wanted to be back at school, I really didn’t realize how much I missed school since I was gone for so long,” Leake said.
While some teachers across Arkansas decided not to return to campus this school year due to COVID-19, longtime history teacher Pittman says the thought crossed his mind, but in the end, the classroom is where he belongs.
“I have a health problem going on with my immune system so I didn’t really have to come back and I’m not really nervous about coming back," Pittman said. "I see teachers making their wills and stuff and you could get sick just going to Walmart.”
The Central Junior High Principal says one thing they can work on a little bit is the dismissal and getting students on buses and home on time. He says they will be correcting that will get students home sooner.