Dear Parents/Guardians of Students in the Prairie Grove School District:
We are looking forward to another school year and seeing our students and teachers once again as we prepare for the 2021-22 school year. We hope that your family had time to enjoy the summertime.
Given all the circumstances and challenges we faced last year due to Covid-19, I felt that we ended the past school year on a wonderful note, and we were able to hold a traditional graduation ceremony at Tiger Stadium where we graduated 133 students.
Over the summer our teachers got some time to rest and recharge their batteries. I have been so proud to observe and hear about all the professional development our teachers and school administrators have attended in their desire to become better at helping our students. The hard work that our teachers and students showed last school year was evident when we received the results from our 2020-21 state testing results. Each of our students from last year, in grades 3 through 10, was required to take a state assessment in English, Math, Science, and Reading. From all those tests, we are happy to report that 88% of those individual grade-level assessments scored higher than the state average on those same assessments. What a wonderful testament to our students, teachers, and you, our parents, on the importance we place on the education of our children.
As for now, Prairie Grove Schools will be open for 1st - 12th students on Tuesday, August 17th. Our Pre-K and Kindergarten students have a different starting schedule; these details will be communicated with you. As the superintendent of Prairie Grove Schools, I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some things that are on my mind as we get ready for the next school year.
Over the last month, we have seen an increase in the number of individuals who have contracted the Covid-19 virus. This weighs heavily on my mind as our number one priority for our school district is the safety and well-being of our students. I have spoken to several parents who are concerned about the start of school and what safety measures the district has put in place. I can assure you, just as the start of school last year, we will do everything within our means to make sure your child, or children, that attend Prairie Grove schools in as safe an environment as is possible for us. We ask that you understand, however, that some of the decisions on how our school district handles this new challenge are out of our hands and are limited by what state law and state leaders allow us to do.
Thanks to the support of our wonderful school board, we have already established a virtual plan, approved by the state, for your child if they, or an in-house family member, are medically fragile and unable to attend school on-site. If you wish your child to attend virtually, the first step you need to take is to contact your child’s building principal, either by phone or email, in order to set up an appointment to talk to them about your child’s options for virtual instruction. Just to be clear, we are asking that parents have a conversation with their child’s school principal before being considered a virtual student this coming school year. Now due to the Covid-19 positive cases rising, we as a school district, are going back into discussions as to whether or not there is a need to open back up the options for virtual off-site instruction such as we did last year.
Many of you have asked about what our district policy will be regarding masks for our faculty and students. In April of this year, the Arkansas legislature created Act 1002 which prevented any mandatory mask orders to be implemented unless done so by the Arkansas legislature. We will abide by this law until further notice making it optional to wear a mask. However, we serve children under the age of 12 who are not eligible for vaccination and wearing of masks is being highly recommended. Please note that as of the time of this writing, there have not been any definite decisions regarding masks.
As for vaccinations, the ADE states that “COVID-19 vaccines are the most effective strategy to protect people from getting sick and to reduce the risk of people spreading COVID-19. Students who are ages 12 and older are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccination. Fully-vaccinated students or staff do not need to quarantine if deemed close contacts, unless they have/develop symptoms.” Although this is an individual and family decision, vaccinations are also highly recommended for those of age.
Now, an exciting change for this school year is that we are implementing a shortened instructional school day every Wednesday dismissing at approximately 1:30 p.m. Please understand that we will still have bus service on these days running at their usual time of 3:10 p.m. You will have the option to pick your child up at 1:30 or they can remain at school where they will have time for homework and activities at school until the 3:10 dismissal time. These afternoons will be perfect for those doctor, dental, eye, counseling, etc. appointments that have previously taken your child out of instructional time. For the teachers, this is allowing for precious time during the school day to work together and discuss the academic, emotional, and social progress and growth of every one of our students. At no time in my career as an educator, can I think of a more important time for our teachers to review each of our students’ progress at school and prescribe interventions to address each student’s individual learning needs. Your child’s principal will be in contact with you soon to explain in more detail how Wednesdays will be conducted at your child’s school.
We are very thankful for your trust in allowing us to educate your child, and we don’t take that trust lightly. However, we also need your partnership as well. It takes a team effort of teachers at school and parents at home to create the best possible experience for children in school.
We look forward to working with you in the coming school year! In the next few weeks, we will update our 2021-2022 Back to School and Covid-19 plans on our websites. If you have comments, please respond by email to our district email address - firstname.lastname@example.org
Prairie Grove Schools