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Flippin, Ark. School District sends elementary students home for semester

District sees highest COVID-19 numbers in 2021 school year
Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 5:29 PM CST
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FLIPPIN, Ark. (KY3) - The Flippin (Ark.) School District sent elementary school students home for the remainder of the semester due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The district has been working through contact tracing and does believe it to be an isolated event.

Through the entire fall semester, the district averaged less than 10 active cases at a given time. On Monday, there were 16 active cases in the elementary alone. That number then jumped to 32 by midday Wednesday.

The Arkansas Department of Health says increased COVID-19 case numbers and quarantines are up statewide, but in particular in areas with lower vaccination rates and in districts without mask mandates.

“With the number of students we had out anyway, and it being an isolated incident in the elementary school we felt it would be beneficial to our students and in their best interest,” said Kelvin Hudson, superintendent of Flippin Schools. ”It’s a burden on families when they don’t have school to send their kids to, so we keep that in mind, but with the health and safety of our students and community at the forefront of those decisions.”

It was a decision administration felt was necessary. Through the course of the semester, Flippin has never had a mask mandate at any point but has utilized online learning and mitigation strategies to reduce the spread and prioritize in-person learning.

”We believe that face-to-face instruction is best, but we do have that virtual option when we feel our students being in close proximity is a concern to the community,” said Hudson. “Luckily, virtually learning can be beneficial in an instance like this.”

According to the Arkansas Department of Health, Flippin isn’t alone. Several districts across Arkansas that do not have mask mandates are seeing cases steadily climb.

In north-central Arkansas:

Mountain Home School District: 30 active cases

Harrison School District: 22 active cases

Bergman School District: 9 active cases

Jasper School District: 7 active cases

Yellville-Summit School District: 6 active cases

So for many, the holiday break may be coming right on time.

”Everybody that’s currently in quarantine or tested positive would be back in the next two weeks if we were to be in session,” said Hudson.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha, chief medical officer with the Arkansas Department of Health, says if parents haven’t gotten their children vaccinated, is the time. Early studies from the United Kingdom and South Africa show, that while hospitalizations of the omicron-variant are down in adults, hospitalizations are up nearly 20% in children.

”We need to have kids in person, but more than anything we need to keep them safe,” said Dr. Dillaha.

Flippin school leaders say it intends to start the spring semester back normally with all students learning in person.

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