COVID-19 briefing: State moves start of 2020-21 school year; over 800 new cases


At today’s COVID-19 statewide briefing, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced the start of the school year has been moved to Aug. 24. Most schools had been slated to begin the year on Aug. 13. It was also noted the school year must start no later than Aug. 26.

The new start date will give districts the opportunity to better prepare for reopening during the crisis, the governor said.

Arkansas Ready for Learning

Hutchinson told reporters he consulted with Arkansas Education Secretary Johnny Key (pictured at Thursday’s briefing) on the move. The state will work with districts on the Aug. 24 shift and will help with any safety issues regarding COVID-19.

Key also released a guide for districts on responding to a potential crisis. (See below.)

Health and Education Department COVID-19 response guide for districts Key also noted the decision to wear masks on buses and/or classrooms will be up to the district.

In terms of COVID-19 specifics at today’s briefing, Hutchinson said over 800 new cases have been reported since Wednesday. The total number of cases stands at 26,052. Hospitalizations were up 36 to a total of 394. And four new deaths were reported with the total now standing at 309 deaths in the state.

Other statistics from Health Secretary Dr. Nate Smith at the briefing:

  • Over 4,700 tests were completed on Wednesday.
  • There have been 596 recoveries since yesterday with almost 20,000 total to date.
  • 82 are on ventilators, up three from Wednesday.
  • There are currently 5,751 active cases.

To watch the Thursday briefing, click below.

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