Arkansas school districts prepare for likely increase in COVID cases

The steady increase in COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is alarming school districts in the state.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The steady rise in COVID-19 cases in Arkansas is alarming school districts in the state.

“We are worried. We are concerned,” Janice Warren said.

Janice Warren is the Assistant Superintendent of Equity and Pupil Services for the Pulaski County Special School District. She oversees the school nurses.

The district has 11 active cases. Warren said that is too high.

“This weekend, today, we’ve had quite a few positive cases that we have not in the past experienced,” she said. “First time we noticed we had a spike and then decreased was when we came back from Labor Day.”

She believes this recent spike is from Halloween, and worries numbers will only get higher with Thanksgiving coming up.

“We know of some Halloween parties that occurred in our communities that several of our students attended,” Warren said.

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, the districts with the most active cases are in Northwest Arkansas, with the Springdale School District currently having 88 active cases. 

But the Little Rock School District still has the fifth-highest number of active cases, with 36 in total as of Monday evening.

However, Warren said the Pulaski County Special School District is seeing minimal spread in the classroom.

“The majority of ours have been outside bringing it in,” she said. “Close contacts to a positive spouse, or children who come home from college.”

She said this is proof community spread is happening, and it’s why the district keeps telling kids to be mindful.

“Wear PPE, be cognizant of the six feet or more and the 15 minutes. You just need to practice safe distance,” Warren said.

But as cases continue to spike, Warren and the district are preparing and aware outbreaks are likely going to happen and can only hope students and their families will do the right thing.

“We keep reminding our staff that as these numbers increase, be ready for that call when we tell you we’re going to have to pivot to virtual learning district-wide,” she said.