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Arkansas Catholic schools closed until at least March 30

Superintendent says instruction will switch to online assignments to slow spread of virus

Published: March 16, 2020   
Aprille Hanson, Arkansas Catholic file
Sawyer Williams, 7, a first-grade student in Kay Lynn Hill’s class at St. Joseph School in Conway, uses hand sanitizer in his classroom during the 2018 flu season.

The Catholic Schools Office closed all Catholic schools in the state in an effort to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

On Saturday, superintendent Theresa Hall sent a letter to principals along with notes for parents that the schools would be closed from March 16 until at least March 30, when reopening will be evaluated. Spring break is scheduled from March 23-27.

“I consulted several people pastors, principals, parents and also with the bishop closing Masses there were a lot of reasons” for the statewide closure, Hall told Arkansas Catholic. “ … We all have to do our share.”

COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. Classes have switched to alternative method of instruction (AMI), similar to what happens in the event of a snow day. Hall said students have assignments related to their current curriculum, through Google Classroom or another electronic method of communication. There will also be no onsite parent-teacher conferences.

Governor Asa Hutchinson announced Sunday the shutdown of all public schools in Arkansas starting Tuesday, March 16, with reopening scheduled March 30.

A handful of Catholic schools in Benton, Conway, Little Rock and North Little Rock were shut down prior to the statewide shut down after public schools were closed in Pulaski, Saline, Jefferson and Grant Counties.

As of March 16, there were 22 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Arkansas. The Arkansas Department of Health’s website, healthy.arkansas.gov, also stated there were 14 persons under investigation, 132 negative tests and 258 people being monitored, with daily ADH check-ins.

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