For the second time this year, administration has decided to keep an entire grade of elementary students home. Parents of those students were notified on Friday. Hopefully, this precautionary measure will help avoid further Covid cases among elementary students at this time.
The Viola School District is free of Covid cases and quarantines again.
Ready for Learning Update:
We have had a great start to the 2021-2022 school year. Despite no mask mandate in the Viola School District, COVID quarantines of students and staff have decreased substantially. The District will continue to practice safety measures and CDC recommendations with respect to physical distancing, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, cleaning and maintaining health facilities, as well as making appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies. Our District's RN is the point of contact coordinating with state and local health officials to handle contact tracing and schedule both vaccinations and diagnostic and screening tests, when necessary.
There was no update last week, because there wasn't much of anything to report. That is still the case this week, the Viola School District is virtually free of Covid quarantines.
Viola End of the Week Covid Update:
There are currently 14 students and 0 staff quarantined from the Viola School District.
Viola School Weekly Covid Update:
There were 20 Viola students quarantined during our second week of school.
We had a great first week of school at Viola. There were no known positive covid test results among Viola staff and students during the first week of school.
We plan to make regular updates about quarantines and positive test results. However, due to confidentiality protocols, numbers reflecting less than ten people will not be reported.
Elementary Open House Guidelines
Elementary open house will be held Thursday, August 12th from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Although masks are not required, they are strongly recommended. Students attending open house will be limited to only two adults and siblings still living at home with them.
Elementary Breakfast Guidelines
Elementary breakfast will be split into two separate sessions to allow social distancing and extra cleaning. Grades K-3 will be served from 7:20-7:40, and grades 4-6 will be served from 7:40-8:00.
Elementary Drop-Off and Pick-Up Guidelines (Once Sewer Construction is Completed)
Elementary drop-off and pick-up is located behind the cafeteria off of 5th Street. Please use this designated drop off location instead of dropping off students between the Administration Building and the Cafeteria. This area is to be used for bus unloading only.
Nurse Announcement (COVID reporting information)
If any Viola students or direct family members have recently tested positive for COVID-19 or been placed on quarantine please contact School Nurse Debbie Kinder at 870-458-4014.
FREE MEALS EXTENDED
Covid waivers allow ALL students at Viola School District to receive FREE BREAKFAST, LUNCH and SNACK for the 2021-2022 SCHOOL YEAR! This is a blessing for our students for the upcoming school year. A free and reduced application does NOT have to be completed! However, applications will still be mailed to all households in the district and are available at the elementary and high school offices.
So why complete a Free and Reduced Application? Qualified households could receive a Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) of $375 for every eligible student. Some households only qualify if they complete a new Free and Reduced Application and qualify this year.
The Viola School District will be holding an open house on Thursday, August 12th. It will be an opportunity to drop in and meet your teachers and find classrooms before the first day of school, which is Tuesday, August 17th. There will not be a Kindergarten or 7th grade orientation meeting that night, as we have held in the past. However, those students will be able to meet and greet teachers like the other grades can.
In conjunction with this year's Open House, the Pharmacy Barn will hold a vaccination clinic in the High School building beginning at 6:00 pm. The Pfizer vaccine will be available to individuals 12 and older. Although this clinic is intended for our students, you do not have to be a student to get vaccinated.
The Viola School District Plan for Use of ARP ESSER Funds has been posted in the document section on the Viola School District website.
For the 2021-2022 school year, the Viola School District will continue to follow COVID-19 directives that are mandated by the Governor, Legislature, as well as State and Local health officials. The District does not anticipate requiring students, staff, or visitors to wear masks at this time. We do plan to practice some physical distancing and will emphasize handwashing, and respiratory etiquette to help maintain a healthy facilities. Contact tracing will continue to be utilized when positive COVID-19 cases and exposures are encountered. Further recommendations may be made at a later date by the District's Ready for Learning committee.
After consulting with state health experts, Governor Asa Hutchinson has lifted the statewide mask mandate. Wearing masks is now recommended, but not required. Viola's School Board has decided to follow the Governor's directive. Masks will not be required for students or staff at school, effective immediately. However, masks will still be available and other precautions including social distancing and additional cleaning will continue to be followed.
During a press conference Friday, Governor Asa Hutchinson announced changes to directives that have been in place. In summary, the directives that have been in place, with the exception of the mask mandate, are now guidance and are to be used as guidelines that the Arkansas Department of Education strongly encourages schools to continue to follow, not only for everyday operations, but also for academic and extracurricular activities.
This guidance, recommended by the Arkansas Department of Health, has allowed Arkansas schools to operate onsite safely all year with minimal disruption for school-wide or district-wide modifications to onsite instruction. Therefore, don't expect drastic changes just yet. The Viola School District plans to continue operating under its pandemic policies at this time.
The COVID vaccine clinic scheduled for this Friday has been moved to Friday, February 26th.
Due to a high number of quarantined students and staff in the elementary school, Viola Elementary students will attend school virtually from home this week.
Viola High School will be open for on campus instruction as normal. Buses will run to pick up high school students, but may be running a little later each morning this week, since elementary students will not be riding.
Staff members who are not quarantined need to report to work as usual on Tuesday.
The Viola School District will remain open for onsite learning between the Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. We were officially notified yesterday that there are no plans for a statewide closure of schools. After Christmas, families will continue to have onsite and virtual options. However, we strongly recommend that students attend school in person, unless required to be quarantined. Because of masks and quarantine policies being implemented at school, research is suggesting that students attending school in person are less likely to contract COVID. Thank you for your patience and cooperation and have a great Thanksgiving!
The Viola School District wants to thank everyone for an outstanding start to the 2020-2021 school year.
There have been a few expected bumps with technology that we are working to troubleshoot to better serve every student in the district. The additional chromebooks we are expecting in the next week will help tremendously by putting a device in the hands of every student, when needed.
We are also thankful for those who have kept our District’s RN, Debbie Kinder (458-4014), notified of issues that might be related to the pandemic. We have been able to quarantine a handful of students and staff who may have been exposed, to keep the virus from spreading through our school, so far. A few have tested positive after being quarantined for exposure outside of school. In every case, we have consulted the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) to determine if anyone else needs to stay home temporarily.
We will continue to act quickly if it is determined that any of our students or staff need to be isolated. We will also do everything we can to make any time away from school a continued time of learning the same material that is being taught to others who remain coming to school each day.
The USDA has approved waivers to allow Viola School to serve ALL of its students FREE meals until December 31st.
While this is a wonderful opportunity for the families in our community, it is only a TEMPORARY benefit at this time. Parents still need to return the 2020-2021 Household Application for Free and Reduced Price School Meals as soon as possible to ensure that their children receive the benefits they deserve after December 31st.
The Viola School District also received much needed additional funding for the first time this year, because more than 70% of our students families filled out and qualified for free or reduced meals.
Thank you so much for your support of our school.
Just a quick reminder to parents, employees and students. Please do not come to school with a fever, bad cough, nausea and/or vomiting, diarrhea or headaches. If you have any of these symptoms, you will automatically be sent home. Also you need to remain symptom free for 24 hours or be symptom free from time of last medication given for these symptoms. We want to keep all our students and employees safe and healthy. Please call with any questions or concerns: 870-458-4014 Nurse's office. Debbie Kinder RN
Please, notify the Viola School Nurse, Debbie Kinder (458-4014), if your child tests positive for the COVID-19 virus or if your child has been around someone who tested positive in the last 14 days. We ask that you do not wait until school starts to provide her with this information, so we can assure the safest environment possible, for all students, from the first day of school.
Although Viola School will officially start at 7:45 am each morning, most elementary students will be heading straight to their classrooms when they get off the bus or are dropped off by parents. Kindergarten through 2nd grade will eat breakfast at 7:30 am, as they have in the past. Third through sixth grade will come back to eat breakfast a little later. This will allow us to stagger breakfast times and spread out students in the cafeteria. (This is a temporary schedule. Eventually, all the elementary will eat breakfast at 7:30, and start going to their classes at 7:45 am.)
Viola School will NOT hold an Open House or New Student Orientation this year. More info about Back to School will come soon.
Ozarka college concurrent credit classes now begin August 24 instead of the 17th.
Transportation to school this Fall
The Viola School District is planning to run its normal bus routes when school begins August 25th, and possibly for the Kindergarten Roundup on August 20th and 21st. (Watch for information about the Kindergarten Roundup soon.) However, buses will be one of the hardest areas to meet social distancing guidelines.
For this reason, we encourage families that are able to transport their children to and from school to do so. This will allow students who have no other way to get back and forth from school to be able to spread out more on the buses. Some of the other procedures that will be different riding a bus this year include:
Windows will be lowered as much as possible to allow more fresh air on the buses. As the weather cools off, we anticipate this will not be necessary.
Students will be assigned seats with family members, primarily keeping the first students on the bus in the mornings in the back of the bus. As more students get on the bus, their seats will be staggered as much as possible, while continuing to fill the seats from the back first, to avoid students having to pass others who are already seated. When the buses arrive at school, students will be asked to remain seated as the seats in front of them are emptied. (This is not actually a new procedure, but it’s more important than in the past.)
A hand sanitizing dispenser will be placed on each bus, and students will be required to wear a mask as they load and unload the bus. Students 10 and older will need to wear their masks for the entire route, unless the bus driver specifically tells them they may take it off that day because of a very small number of riders on the bus. We recommend that students under 10 wear a mask for the entire route as well, but they will be required to have it on any time they are not sitting in their seat or if the bus driver deems it necessary because students are sitting very close to each other.
To create a safer environment, extra sanitizing procedures will be in place on buses, as in buildings.
The Viola School District is asking that parents consider some new items to purchase this year as you prepare for the return to school.
Water bottles – Students will not be allowed to use traditional water fountains this fall. Several touchless water dispensers are being purchased for students to fill up and drink water at school. If the new machines are not in place before the beginning of school, we will provide bottles of water and let teachers operate water fountains as water filling stations until they can be installed.
Masks – Reusable cloth masks will be provided. However, families may find masks, or gaiters, that are comfortable for their children to wear. If so, parents may be able to get children used to wearing that face covering before they come to school. Please keep in mind that like other clothing, masks with pictures or words should be appropriate, or students will be asked to wear a different mask at school, when required. (Even with the governor’s mandate, it appears there will be multiple opportunities for students remove face coverings during the school day.)
Backpacks – These are not a new item, but they may be more important this year than in the past. Some students may only be allowed to access their lockers at few specific times during the day. Others may not be assigned lockers. The District wants to avoid forcing several students into one area at the same time, even with a mask on. It also doesn’t want to create a load that is extremely heavy for students to carry throughout the school day. The administration will continually monitor how lockers are being utilized to ensure that a safe environment is achieved.
Elementary school supplies – The District will again be able to use Title I funds to provide the most common school supplies like paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, etc. Sorry, but this does not cover any high school student supplies. Teachers will let students know what supplies they are expected to get on their own.
The Viola School District is requesting that all parents screen their children each day before coming to school. If your child has a temperature of 100.4 or greater, we ask that you keep him or her at home for 48 hours after the fever breaks without the use of pain relievers. School personnel will also be screening children after they arrive in their classroom each morning.
If a child has been in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days, contact the school nurse before bringing the student to school.
Parents will not be allowed to enter school buildings this year unless screened by a member of our staff outside the front entrance of the elementary or high school buildings. This includes dropping off and picking up students before and after school each day. Both of those buildings will be locked during the school day. Parents and other visitors will have to call the front office when they arrive at school. Our staff will do their best to assist visitors who come to school, but without entering the building, if possible. Exceptions will be made for scheduled meetings and picking up a sick child.
We appreciate your understanding of these new procedures being implemented. Many of them are just temporary and will be discontinued when it is reasonable to do so.
The Viola School District will makeup some of the instructional days lost by the delayed start of school using technology to teach students remotely on various Mondays during the school year. These Virtual School Mondays will focus on working out technology and connectivity issues as teachers and students prepare for learning from home situations. We may need to use this remote learning later because of inclement weather or COVID-19. We are waiting to schedule these virtual school days until we have acquired all of the technology we will need. Other days will be made up later in the year, in place of days that the District is currently scheduled to be closed.
You can also find these and other updates on the District’s Facebook page (VSD #15).
The Viola School District Ready for Learning Committee has been meeting to help work out details for returning to school on campus in August, or whenever allowed by the governor. Below is some information the committee felt would be important for parents as we prepare for this new and most unique school year.
1. Elementary students on campus will still have 40 minutes of recess every day when school resumes on August 25th. Additional cleaning will be utilized on playground equipment, as it will be campus wide. 2. Special classes, like art, music, PE, etc., will still be offered to students on campus. Individual supplies will be utilized whenever reasonable, rather than sharing community supplies that would be used by multiple students each day. 3. Meals will still be served in the cafeteria. Student meal times will be staggered to avoid reaching full capacity in that facility.
We anticipate other measures will also be taken to help ensure that social distancing guidelines are met as much as feasible. To the extent possible, we will keep you informed about these additional measures by sending out regular messages that will be posted on the District's:
-webpage (http://violaschool.k12.ar.us)under the "STATE REQUIRED INFORMATION" link-Facebook page (VSD #15).
As a note to parents, there are other Facebook pages which appear to be the District's official page. Please, realize that comments made to posts on those pages are not monitored by the District. Also, messages to those pages are not received or seen by the District administration as one might think. At this time, the official Facebook page for the Viola School District is VSD #15. (That may change in the near future because the District is in the process of converting to a new webpage linked to a phone app and social media. Be watching for more information about this exciting new resource in the next few months.)
Viola School District Mask Information
Although we are still developing policies for wearing masks, the Viola School District will expect every student and staff member to have a mask. Masks will be provided for any student or employee who does not have one. (We are expecting delivery of our first shipment of 500 washable cloth masks this week.)
Eligible visitors will not be allowed in our buildings unless they have a mask on. At this time we do not expect to have extra masks available for visitors, but that may change.
Students will not be expected to wear a mask for the entire day. In some cases, they may not be wearing masks much more than when they are walking in the hallways. Also, we realize younger students can not be expected to wear masks as often or as long as adults. Our teachers will be applying different protocols for students of various ages when they are in classrooms and other situations.
With new guidance coming out on a daily basis, we expect that what is planned in July will likely change by August 25th. (Call 458-4001 with questions or concerns. You can leave a message at any time.)
Because the 1st Day of School has been pushed back until Tuesday, August 25th, the Viola School District has extended the deadline for families to decide if they want to utilize the at home, online curriculum for the Fall semester.
Call 458-4001, if you choose to use online curriculum from home, by July 31st. If you choose to attend school in person, you do not need to contact anyone.
Announcements with more information about what will be different at school this year will be released several times each week, so families can make an informed decision. These announcements will address topics such as masks, transportation, meals, and how the Viola District will make up the 6 days in August that are being missed because Governor Hutchinson pushed back the start of school.
You can leave a message with a question or concern 24 hours a day at 458-4001.