School districts in South Arkansas have a variety of responses to the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

“I do not foresee us pivoting to virtual, but that will depend on our ability to keep teachers and staff,” Magnolia Superintendent John Ward told on Friday.

The Magnolia School Board has its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. today.

Ward said the board will make a decision as to whether the district’s students, faculty and staff should return to mask-wearing requirements.

“I have my doubts we will require masks,” Ward said.

As of Friday, there were 81 cases of COVID-19 among Magnolia School District students and faculty – but only 14 involved faculty. The Magnolia district has generally been reluctant to use online learning or alternative method of learning options so long as there’s been sufficient staff to cover classes and other necessary functions.

Classes resume Wednesday at Southern Arkansas University. SAU will open the spring semester with a mask mandate in effect for classrooms, shared offices, and when in transit within buildings. Signs will be posted outside individual offices of those employees requesting mask usage in personal spaces, and the Task Force requests visitors comply with these requests.

Elsewhere in the area:

Hope Public Schools went to virtual classes last week, and is extending the “pivot” to virtual instruction through Wednesday.

The Smackover-Norphlet School District said in a statement on Thursday that 14% of its student body, and 9 % of staff, in either isolation or quarantine related to COVID-19. It is requiring that masks be worn at all K-12 campuses until COVID infections fall below the 5% threshold.

Lafayette County implemented a mask mandate for students, faculty and staff last week until further notice. Any patrons wishing to enter the buildings must wear a mask.

Camden Fairview is requiring that masks be worn through this week in all buildings and on school buses.

El Dorado schools are requiring masks for all staff, students, and visitors while indoors and on buses, also until further notice.

No masks are required in the Nevada School District, or the Emerson-Taylor-Bradley School District.

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