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Back to School has safety, strengths priority

By Ken McLemore/Hope Public Schools, 08/5/21 6:42 AM

HOPE – After a school year that looked markedly abnormal, the Hope Public Schools approaches the first day of school for the 2021-2022 academic year on Aug. 16 with a view toward ensuring a safe year for all students, faculty, staff and stakeholders.

HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley expressed the vision.

“As we embark on the 2021-2022 school year, I have a renewed sense of optimism about the strength of our district,” Dr. Crossley said. “COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought challenges; however, we have shown determination to succeed despite the obstacles.

“We cannot be certain out the trends of the pandemic for this school year,” he said. “But, we can be certain about one thing: our strength as a community.”

Crossley said those strengths are evident.

“I am proud of our principals and their hearts for servant leadership,” he said. “They are modeling excellence every day. I am proud of our teachers for their unwavering dedication to ALL students. They are the lifeblood for teaching and learning in our schools. I am proud of our support staff members for working tirelessly to ensure that our schools are safe, warm, and dry. Without them, we could not have a positive culture.

“I am proud of our students for their determination to learn to overcome adversity and seek to excel academically,” Crossley said. “Most importantly, I am proud of our community for entrusting us with Hope’s most precious resource: our children. Thank you. We are truly better together, and our schools embody this idea.

“Please don’t hesitate to contact me; my door will always be open to you. Let’s have an amazing school year.”

COVID-19 Clinics

The Hope Public Schools will offer four free COVID-19 vaccination clinics Aug. 10 and 12.

HPS and Express Rx will sponsor a free vaccination clinic Aug. 10, from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. in the MAC Building on the Hope High School campus. Anyone ages 12 years old and up may obtain either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

The Bobcat Clinic and CABUN Rural Health will offer the Pfizer vaccine at three clinics beginning Aug. 10 from 4-6 p.m. in the Hope High School cafeteria, then Aug. 12 from 3-4:30 p.m. in the Yerger Middle School cafeteria and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Hope Academy of Public Service nurse’s office. For more information on the Bobcat Clinic/CABUN clinics scan the information block at the bottom of the graphic accompanying this story on the HPS district or any campus website.

With the advent of possible changes in local authority regarding the wearing of face masks on campus as proposed by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson in a July 29 announcement in Little Rock, the Hope Public Schools remains committed to its current policy encouraging faculty and staff, and students to wear a face mask.

The policy is in accord with recent guidance from the Arkansas Department of Education which recommends those steps when indoors and recommends mask usage outdoors in areas of “crowded outdoor settings or during activities that involve sustained close contact with other people who are not fully vaccinated.” The ADE recommendation follows current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Other personal safety habits such as frequent hand washings with antibacterial soap, use of antibacterial hand lotion and “social distancing” are also recommended by the HPS when on campus.


Certain NON-COVID-19 immunizations are required by law for all incoming Pre-school and Kindergarten students, according to HPS District Nurse Renee Sells, RN.

“All incoming Kindergarten students must have up-to-date immunizations; up-to-date for Kindergarten is not the same as up-to-date for Pre-school,” Sells said. “Please have your health care provider check your child’s records.”

All required immunizations should be updated prior to the first day of school, she said.

“You may get these shots by making an appointment with your child’s primary care provider, or the Bobcat Clinic at Hope High School, or the Hempstead County Health Unit,” Sells said.

Questions should be directed to the school nurse for each child’s campus.

Entering Kindergarten students are also required to provide a copy of a health physical exam conducted within the past two years.


Open House activities will be conducted on each campus in two sessions, including:

–Clinton Primary School, Aug. 10 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. and registration packets may be obtained at the CPS office prior to Open House, but must be completed before meeting teachers.

–Hope High School, Aug. 10 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Students will receive class schedules and be issued a Chromebook device.

–Yerger Middle School, Aug. 12 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

–Hope Academy of Public Service, Aug. 12 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m.

–Beryl Henry Elementary School, Aug. 12 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Generally, only each student with his/her parent/guardian should enter the building at BHE during Open House. All students should go to their homeroom to meet their teacher, collect registration packet and leave the building. Fifth grade students enter through the cafeteria lobby and exit through the bus line entrance. Sixth grade students enter through the main entrance and exit through the bus line entrance.

Registration packets should be completed at home and returned by students, including Hope from Home Virtual Academy students, on the first day of school Aug. 16. Packets may be obtained early at the BHE main office until Aug. 10 from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and may be returned during Open House.

Conference times with teachers will be as follows based upon the student’s LAST name: A-G, 3:30-4:30; H-M, 4:30-5:30; N-T, 5:30-6:30; U-Z, 6:30-7:30. For alternatives due to work schedules, please contact the BHE main office at 777-6222.

Hope High School Freshman Orientation — “Respect and Connect” for the Class of 2025 will be conducted Aug. 10 from 10-11:30 a.m. in the HHS auditorium. Incoming freshmen will learn about HHS climate and culture, meet teachers, take a campus tour, get class schedules, and be issued backpacks and Chromebook devices.

HHS Senior Breakfast – The annual HHS Senior Breakfast will be held Aug. 10 in the HHS cafeteria at 8:30 a.m. “A Sweet Ending to a New Beginning” will be the theme for the annual informational, motivational session.


–All students will be issued standard school supplies and electronic devices required for classes. Supplies and devices should NOT be shared under COVID-19 protocols.

–All students are eligible for free breakfast and lunch meals based upon HPS participation in the federal Community Eligibility Program, again this year, according to Deanna Gilbert, HPS Child Nutrition Director. Meal services protocols will be determined for each campus and announced. No meals should be brought to school from off-campus.

–All classrooms will have assigned seating and social distancing will be observed where practical and feasible.


All campus facilities and buses have been cleaned, disinfected and treated for both sanitary and anti-pathogen protection, including services provided by Ecovasive Arkansas Infection Control.

Students and parents should remember the following regarding bus usage:

–All buses will be disinfected after each route is completed.

–Students will be provided hand sanitizer and masks as needed on each bus.

–Students are strongly encouraged to wear a mask while riding the bus and while waiting at bus stops.

–Social distancing will be observed on HPS buses as is practical and feasible.


Students wishing to participate in athletics should contact the Bobcat Clinic to schedule an athletics physical examination. Call 870-722-2733, option 2.

Pre-season workouts for the Hope High School Bobcat Football program began Aug. 2 and Athletic Director/Head Coach Phillip Turner has scheduled a complete lineup of non-conference and conference play for the Cats this season, beginning with a varsity benefit game at Fouke, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. The Yerger Middle School program will open with a benefit game Aug. 19 against Nashville at Hammons Stadium at 6 p.m.

Pre-season sale of home game football tickets will be announced, as will protocols for Hammons Stadium based upon current COVID-19 guidance.

A meeting for parents will be announced to provide information regarding heat illness, concussions and other athletics-related health matters.

The HPS is currently investigating an Esports program involving electronic video sports as governed by the Arkansas Activities Association which will include play against AAA member schools, Turner said.


The Hope Public Schools abides by the Child Find component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) which requires the identification, location and evaluation of all children in the HPS district with disabilities ages birth to 21 who require early intervention or special education services. The Arkansas Department of Health directs IDEA Early Intervention services for ages infant to 3 years, and the Arkansas Department of Education is the lead agency for services to individuals ages 3-21 years.

Children in the HPS who manifest declining academic performance, problems with behavioral issues, are the target of bullying or manifest bullying behavior, suffer extended illness, are medically diagnosed with a recognized disability, fail to attend class or manifest anxiety about attendance, have been hospitalized for psychiatric treatment or suicide attempt, are English language learners, or manifest issues within the Response to Intervention process may be referred for special services.

Contact Assistant Superintendent Josclyn Wiley at 870-7777-2251, ext. 32, or Dr. Linda Clark, HPS social worker/homeless liaison, at 870-777-2251, ext. 29, for questions or additional information.


Campus contact information for back-to-school questions includes:

–Clinton Primary School, 870-722-2723.

–Beryl Henry Elementary School, 870-777-6222.

–Hope Academy of Public Service, 870-777-3454.

–Yerger Middle School, 870-722-2781.

–Hope High School, 870-777-3451.