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PEA RIDGE — School officials are working diligently preparing for the first day of school with a most unusual set of circumstances.

In addition to the changes with the school reconfiguration and the construction of a new high school, there are many changes mandated by the state from the Department of Education and Department of Health in response to the covid-19 pandemic.

School superintendent Keith Martin said he and other school officials have been answering questions from parents on Facebook life and are “doing our best trying to support each other.”

Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s recent announcement about providing hot spots for internet connection in rural areas was a welcome announcement. Martin said Pea Ridge would receive about 100 hot spots from the state.

With the announcement from the governor and the Arkansas Athletics Association approving extracurricular activities, sports practice began in earnest this week.

“The buses will run as normal,” Martin said, although routes may be adjusted depending on the need.

He reiterated that a “good email address” is essential for the school to have for each parent as it’s the “best way of communicating with everyone.” Martin said open house dates have been scheduled. He said the “open house” events will be different than in previous years due to social distancing restrictions.

Martin said all students will be given a “device” on which to do their school work and the type of device — Apple iPad, Google Chrome-book, etc. — will depend on the grade and need.

Open house events will be drive-through and online Dates are:

• 1-3 p.m. Aug. 18: Pre-kindergarten

• 1-4 p.m. Aug. 19, 20, 21: Primary School

• 1-4 p.m. Aug. 19-21: Middle School

• To be announced: Junior High School

• Aug. 5-6 for Chromebook distribution: High School;

• Aug. 19 for virtual open house: High School.

During the July School Board meeting, School Board members:

• Accepted resignations from Amanda Cruikshank, literacy teacher; Amanda Childs, social worker; and Gloria Fingard, special education teacher.

• Approved hiring Jason Upton, high school math teacher/coach; Evan Athanasiou, middle school literacy teacher; Lindsey Rankin, high school special education.

• Approved hiring Amanda Gomez and Juanita Newton, evening custodians; Ashton Mondy, middle school instructional aide; and Linda Jovel, Mary Martin and Belinda Mason food service.

• Approved amending the contract of Christine Cline, coordinator of RT/MTSS due to change in scope of work.

Annette Beard may be reached by email at [email protected] .

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