Two Arkansas high schools have moved to virtual learning in relation to COVID-19 quarantines, state officials announced during Monday’s pandemic briefing.

The high schools in Cross County and Searcy County school districts have moved to online learning only because of a “loss of staffing due to quarantine in both [districts],” Secretary of Education Johnny Key said.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson said: “I see that as a periodic problem that will be solved over time. There might be a temporary interruption but not something that will impact education across the state.”

Hutchinson addressed reports that a school bus driver in Russellville had died from COVID-19, saying his understanding was the driver had contracted the virus prior to school starting. He used it as an example of the importance of everyone following guidelines to follow the mask mandate and socially distance. Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero said the health department is conducting contact tracing for anyone who may have had contact with the driver.

The governor announced 368 new positive cases in the state, bringing the cumulative total to 61,224. Since the start of the pandemic 797 Arkansans have died as a result of COVID-19.

As of Monday, the state had completed 181,950 PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests and 4,644 antigen (quick turnaround) tests in August, which is more than 6 percent of the state’s population.

Jeanette Anderton can be reached at janderton@thecabin.net.

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