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HPS return plan embraces “new normal”

By Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools, 07/6/20 5:15 PM

HOPE – A collaboration between administrators, teachers, and staff of the Hope Public Schools, along with health officials and school nurses has produced “Hope United: A Plan for Education” the guide to the “new normal” of public education for the HPS in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

The plan for the 2020-2021 school year and path forward for all HPS campuses was released to the public today and is available on the HPS district website under the COVID-19 tab and each campus website at www.hpsdistrict.org online.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Bobby Hart said the plan represents planning by the district and its stakeholders since the cessation of public school classes in Arkansas in mid-March.

“We as a district have chosen to focus on what we can become out of this challenge rather than focus on the losses we endure, we want to focus on the potential of the new,” Dr. Hart said in the plan introduction. “This document presents a number of strategies and considerations as we move forward in embracing the new ‘normal’ of school.”

Hart said every consideration in the document reflects guidance by the Centers for Disease Control, Arkansas Department of Health, the Arkansas Department of Education/Division of Elementary and Secondary Education and the Office of the Governor regarding the district’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Now is the time to plan for and address the eventual reopening of schools, with an understanding that the health, safety, and wellness of students, families, educators, and staff must be a priority,” he said.

The primary purpose of the plan is to provide the HPS Board and the district with a definitive document for re-entry into education in the 2020-2021 school year, Hart said.

He said the district intends to assure the physical, intellectual, and emotional safety of students, staff, and families, as well as reducing anxiety and stress for them, while creating a predictably consistent environment in which to operate the public schools in Hope and help reduce the incidence of COVID-19.

The plan offers answers to Frequently Asked Questions based upon guidance from ADE/DESE beginning with the official start of classes on Aug. 13.

The plan details the district’s guidance for five general areas of concern, including health and safety, social-emotional/mental health, equity and learning recovery, distance learning, and workforce/legal matters.

Guidance regarding building entrance requirements, screenings, the use of masks, hygiene, social distancing, and disinfection practices are outlined. The plan also provides guidance regarding the protocols for responses to student illness.

Guidance regarding student transportation is also outlined in FAQs including screenings, use of masks, disinfection of buses, and notice of campus protocols on transportation.

Guidance regarding a distance learning option for students is also outlined in the plan.

“Creating an online learning platform that is easily accessible by students, teachers and parents is paramount to providing education availability in the Hope Public Schools as we move forward with the ‘new’ normal,” the document states.

The district will accept registrations for online learning from students beginning July 6. Registration information is available at www.hpsdistrict.org online and at the district administration offices, 117 E. Second St., Hope, Ar., 71802.

Guidance for teachers and other district employees is also outlined in FAQs.