Health officials release new school guide as Ark. reports 652 new cases

Health officials release new school guide as Ark. reports 652 new cases
A healthy school guide was introduced Thursday during a media conference by Gov. Asa Hutchinson. (Source: Gov. Hutchinson Youtube Channel)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KAIT) - Children were the focus of Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s daily briefing on COVID-19 on Thursday afternoon as we near the scheduled start of the school year.

Gov. Hutchinson did report 652 new cases of COVID-19, still down from last Friday when there was a report of over a thousand new cases in the state.

The governor also showed a chart that plotted the 7-day moving average of new cases among children.

The chart showed that back on July 6, the Arkansas Department of Health had reported 60 new cases in children between 10 to 18-year-old.

He attributed this to that age group being out of school and interacting with one another.

The governor said they are using this data to make an educated decision on going back to school.

However, other age groups among children remained low in the state.

Arkansas Health Secretary Dr. Jose Romero said they are also tracking the 7-day average of positivity rate among children.

“Yes, we’re going to see cases...We hope to see this continue downward,” Dr. Romero said.

Gov. Hutchinson also announced they will introduce the Arkansas Ready to Learn Health School Guide Thursday.

He hopes this will help educators and families prepare to return to school. This won’t change the directives already in place, he considers the guide more of a tool.

Dr. Cam Patterson, chancellor at UAMS, said they helped with this guide to help answer any concerns people may have about reopening schools.

Education Deputy Commissioner Dr. Ivy Pfeffer said the Department of Education knows the start of the school year will be challenging.

That’s why they feel it’s important for them to provide resources to parents and educators to provide help with the social-emotional stressors.

Dr. Pfeffer said the Ready for School resource hotline unveiled a few days ago has already provided them with enough feedback to drive their plans for reopening schools on Aug. 24.

State officials were also pressed on the types of personal protective equipment that teachers have received specifically at one Little Rock school.

Dr. Pfeffer added that the districts are still receiving supplies, including masks and hand sanitizer. She also said they are working on a reserve supply for the rest of the school year and placing an order for face shields.

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