Bauxite schools end virtual Fridays, encourages all students to get back to in-class learning

Bauxite Public Schools have learned virtual learning is not a good substitute for in-class learning.

BAUXITE, Ark. — Bauxite Public Schools have learned virtual learning is not a good substitute for in-class learning.

The district recently announced they will be ending virtual Fridays come April 9th.

They also encourage all virtual students to head back to the classroom, too.

“We can’t be out any more. We need our kids here. We need them learning,” said Matt Donaghy, the superintendent.

Donaghy said the majority of virtual students’ grades have plunged over the year.

Interim test scores essentially revealed the students are struggling to keep up, many have gotten far behind.

“I’m afraid this last year of students not being onsite getting the quality education they are used to at Bauxite is really going to affect them for years to come,” said Donaghy.

The Arkansas Department of Education said this a trend statewide.

On Thursday they showed their support for Bauxite’s plea to get students back in school.

“This is representative of what we’ve heard as far as concerns from districts across the state that their virtual learners have struggled more academically,” said Ivy Pfeffer, the deputy commissioner at the Arkansas Department of Education.

After conducting a survey, the school district even learned parents’ support for virtual learning declined.

As of now, 19% of students are learning virtually district-wide, but come next year, only 5% say they want to return.

“We are encouraged by the data. We are encouraged by the trends, and we are also encouraged by parents having the confidence to bring their students back,” said Pfeffer.

Bauxite said virtual students are not required back on campus for now, but hopes parents are encouraged.

“We feel like they are actually safer here. Because here they are wearing masks, they are social distancing,” said Donaghy.

Bauxite will offer virtual learning next year, but students must apply.

A committee will determine if virtual learning is the best option and that’s partly based on performance from this year.