A Letter to Parents
Dear Parents of South Side Students,
I wish to begin by thanking each of you for your patience, diligence, and assistance during the unexpected closing of South Side School District. Your adaptability and commitment to your child(ren) and our school district is very much appreciated. Currently, we are working with the Arkansas Department of Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on the Ready for Learning Initiative. This initiative represents a model or framework to guide all Arkansas schools as we prepare for re-entry this fall. We would like to answer many questions that have been raised in recent weeks. Please keep in mind the information presented is based on our most current guidance. It is a fluid situation and may change at any time.
When is the first day of the 2020-21 school year?
Students’ first day of school is Thursday, August 13th, 2020. The only revision would be based on Arkansas Department of Health requirements, which is not expected at this time.
Who will be required to wear face coverings?
Currently, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Arkansas Department of Health is recommending that all individuals 10 years old and over wear a face covering when social distancing cannot be achieved. Students under the age of 10 and those with health issues and special needs will not be asked to wear face coverings. At this time, the Arkansas Department of Health has not issued a directive requiring face coverings, rather they are encouraging their use when in areas of high concentration of students where social distancing cannot be maintained. Examples of these times would be riding on a school bus or congregating in hallways between class changes. In a typical classroom setting where social distancing is maintained, students will not be asked to wear face coverings. In the event we have an increase in the number of positive cases, the Arkansas Department of Education may require face coverings to be worn.
Do we need to provide masks for our student or will one be provided?
The school district has ordered three washable masks for every student and adult on campus.
What will bus transportation look like?
The district will continue to provide transportation to and from school. No changes to bus routes or stops have been made. However, it is likely that buses will run a few minutes later at the beginning of school. This will allow students to arrive a few minutes later on campus, exit the bus, and proceed directly to an assigned location. Due to social distancing requirements, students will not be congregating in hallways, the gym lobby, or cafeteria where social distancing is extremely difficult. Based on current Arkansas Department of Health guidelines, students aged 10 and over will be required to wear face coverings when riding the bus. Additionally, students of the same family will be asked to sit together, providing additional room for non-family members to socially distance.
What will the school day and school week look like for my child?
Our goal is for your student(s) to have as normal of a day as possible while we also provide as much safety as possible. We will strive for a sense of normalcy while at school. School leaders are working diligently to create a schedule and transitions to minimize close physical interactions and adhering to social distancing recommendations, while also allowing normal school activities. We plan on students attending school each day on a very traditional schedule as in the past to the highest extent possible.
Will social distancing be observed?
To the degree that it is feasibly possible, social distancing recommendations will be observed based on the guidance we receive from the Arkansas Department of Health between now and the first day of school. Under current guidelines, during times when social distancing would be a challenge such as class changes at the high school or riding the bus, face coverings will be required. To assist in our efforts to maintain social distancing, reorganization of classrooms, cafeteria, and other learning spaces will be necessary. Classrooms will be rearranged and some furniture may be removed to allow additional space between students. We will make every effort to provide distance but not limit student’s ability to interact and communicate with others in their classroom. Additional changes will be also be required during breakfast and lunch times to allow social distancing. The Arkansas Department of Health is recommending cafeterias limit the capacity of students in the cafeteria. We are currently preparing to adjust lunch schedules and/or use alternative areas if needed. Other measures will include sanitation and revised meal distribution protocols.
Will students at the elementary still have extra classes like PE, art, music, guidance, and library?
Yes, students will continue to participate in activity classes, check out books, receive guidance, and gifted instruction. In some cases, this instruction may take place in the regular classroom to avoid additional class changes and reduce the amount of cleaning and sanitation that would be necessary.
Will students be allowed recess or other times to decompress and lower stress?
Yes, elementary students will have outdoor play time with restrictions that limit the number of students with whom they come in contact. Attempts will be made to provide high school students opportunities to relax and visit casually.
What special cleaning and sanitation procedures will take place?
Disinfecting and sanitizing will continue to be a priority throughout the district. More attention will be given to high touch areas, including restrooms, desks, chairs, and countertops. Hand sanitizer and wipes will be available in every classroom for students and teachers. Additional equipment such as sanitizing stations and foggers have been ordered.
Will students and adults be screened daily?
Both students and adults will complete a daily screening tool. You will be provided a link to the tool prior to the start of school. Individuals will be asked the following questions:
What will happen if a student comes to school sick?
The student will be screened by the school nurse. If the temperature is over the Arkansas Department of Health guidance, the student will be sent home and will need to be fever free for at least 48 hours without medication before returning to school. The child will be checked again by the school nurse when returning to school.
What will happen if an individual tests positive for COVID-19?
If this occurs, the district will contact Arkansas Department of Health and follow its’ most up to date guidance, which could possibly include a school briefly closing for additional cleaning and disinfecting.
Will we have Open House for parents prior to the start of school?
We are preparing a modified version of our traditional Open House and parent orientation which will take place in August. Our Leadership Team is currently discussing options that would allow students and parents to visit campus in smaller groups while practicing social distancing. More information will be shared as we approach the beginning of school. Kindergarten orientation has been scheduled for July 6, at 9:00 a.m.
How will the school address skills, concepts, or essential learnings that were missed during the shutdown?
The Leadership Team and individual teachers are currently examining ways to address the essential learnings that may not have been mastered by students due to the shutdown at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. In the elementary master schedule, time will be allocated to assist students who have not mastered the previous years’ skills and concepts. At the high school, skills from the previous course will be embedded in the next course in the sequence.
If I do not want my child to return to school in this traditional format, what are my options?
Two weeks ago, a survey was sent to parents to collect information and assist the school district in preparing for an additional closure or shutdown. Data from that survey did indicate several parents would be interested in allowing their child(ren) the option of remaining at home and receiving their instruction online.
Currently, the district is preparing a detailed “blended learning” model that would allow students to receive direct instruction (whether in person or remotely) in combination with digital content and lessons designed and delivered by our teaching staff. This model will allow the district to pivot from onsite traditional learning to remote digital learning at a moment’s notice. Obviously, this is necessitating changes in many areas. The district has purchased and will make available Chromebooks for all students to have access at all times. Teachers will also need additional devices, related equipment, and training to deliver high quality curriculum and instruction to their students at any time. This too, is underway. For those parents who wish for their child or children to begin the school year working remotely from home, please contact your principal as soon as possible.
Preparations have begun to schedule “digital” days in the first weeks of school. During these times, students and teachers will be on campus, but working digitally to practice and learn the necessary skills, address any shortcomings, and otherwise prepare to make the pivot from onsite to remote learning. It is also possible that the district will schedule one or two digital days when students will remain home and work in real time with their teachers who will be on campus or at home delivering instruction.
What happens if we have another school closure?
It is our hope that if school closes again, our preparation for such will be to our advantage. The time spent preparing our blended learning model and practicing digital learning at school and remotely will position us to seamlessly pivot from onsite to remote learning. Teachers will continue to use Zoom to deliver live lessons and record lessons for student access. The district will continue to use Google Classroom as the platform or location for lessons, supporting documents, videos, and other activities.
Dr. Aaron Hosman
It is the mission of the South Side School District in cooperation with parents and the community to educate all students in a non-threatening environment. All students will grow through education into lifelong achievers. We will provide a curriculum aligned with the state frameworks and national education goals. Teaching all students the extensive skills needed to acquire knowledge throughout life is this school’s purpose. Students will acquire the skills needed in order to function Tomorrow through the use of technology, higher order thinking skills, and positive character traits. This will be the driving force behind our school Today.
This reporting tool will allow parents and students to submit safety concerns that will help identify an individual that may hurt themselves or others or intervene in a situation that violates the school's policies. Please click the link below to complete the form.
Pandemic EBT Benefit
In response to COVID-19 public health emergency, a benefit program Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) has been
developed for states to implement in assisting families that were receiving free or reduced lunches from
their school. The program was designed to help replace the cost of meals incurred by families as a result
of the state eliminating public school gathering. The one time benefit will be $319 per eligible child.
P-EBT will provide nutrition benefits to families who have lost access to free or reduced-price school
meals. Eligible students and families will receive food benefits on a new or existing EBT card. Since all
students at South Side Schools are eligible for free meals, all students will be receiving the benefit.
Households that are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) will be
issued the per child benefit to their existing EBT card. Non SNAP households will be issued an EBT card
in the child’s name and should arrive in late June or early July. Non SNAP households may call client
assistance at 1-800-482-8988.
If there has been a change of address since April, parents are encouraged to email their address change