The New Classroom

As the COVID-19 pandemic shut down schools to in-person learning last year and school districts have offered other ways of learning this year, thousands more Arkansas students and parents have been exposed to virtual schooling, but others have been going about learning this way for years because it better suits their needs. We speak with students and a teacher at Fayetteville Virtual Academy to find out how the program compares to the virtual education some might be experiencing because of the pandemic.

Courtesy / Canopy NWA

 

Canopy of Northwest Arkansas is the only agency in the state that provides resettlement and support services to refugees. Danielle Bennett, the organization's Youth Service Coordinator, discusses how the barriers to education for many student refugees are being exacerbated by the pandemic.

 

 

Courtesy / Fort Smith School District

Fort Smith Public School District is significantly reducing the number of high school students with failing grades during the pandemic by deploying an innovative program called "On Track."  District leaders are using "On Track" teams for each high school campus to work one-on-one with failing students, as well as locating missing ones, to help them achieve career and college readiness. 

As part of its ENGAGE Arkansas initiative, which aims to reengage students who have struggled to adjust to shift in learning during the pandemic, the Arkansas Department of Education has launched a statewide community resources portal. The portal includes information for nearly 2,000 organizations in every county in the state and 32 different categories of community services.

Courtesy / Arkansas Department of Education

More than 60 percent of Arkansas parents say their child is learning the same or more while attending school during the COVID-19 pandemic. That's one of the findings of a survey developed by the Arkansas Department of Education's Office for Family Engagement and the University of Arkansas's Office for Education Policy. The results of the survey were presented to the State Board of Education on Friday.

Courtesy / Boys & Girls Club of Benton County

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to restrict activites for kids, after school programs are slowly reopening and finding ways to give young students an outlet during uncertain times.

At Tuesday's weekly coronavirus response briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the state was on target to vaccinate the 180,000 eligible healthcare workers and long-term care facility residents and staff in phase 1A of the rollout. Given that progress, he said the state would start making the COVID-19 vaccine available to some people in group 1B sooner than originally planned.

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Mental health professionals are reporting more children and adults are seeking out their services during the pandemic. We speak with parents, teachers and therapists to find out how the global health crisis is impacting students as they attend school in person, virtually and everything in between. For more information about the free and anonymous Stay Positive Arkansas program, click here.

For our final conversation of 2020, Michael Tilley, with our partner Talk Business and Politics, discusses flood-related repairs in Fort Smith, a program to help students failing high school classes and an eventual tax hike on some alcohol sales in the area.

The University of Arkansas Fort Smith fall commencement was held virtually this year. Kayla Thompson, one of the students who graduated this weekend, says she's still thrilled she earned her degree in elementary education. She's wanted to be a teacher since she was five.

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