For many families in the Heber Springs School District, the COVID-19 recommendations for isolation aren’t feasible. There are a plethora of reasons why: work, multigenerational families, along with the logistics. The virus has been like when there is a tornado, but dragging on towards its 12-month anniversary. Just like when there is a tornado, often the safest place for students is at the school.

“Each family dynamic is unique and we want to be available to support our families in whatever educational avenue they choose.” said Dr. Andy Ashley, superintendent of the district.

On the first day back from Christmas break, enrollment in the Heber Springs School District was at 1,539 district wide. That is on-site and remote students combined.

“We had about 10-20 families call (each building) to let us know that their child is either in isolation, quarantined, or is staying virtual for the first couple of weeks out of safety. Elementary and middle school have between 40-45 students who are 100 percent virtual, while the high school runs about 150. These numbers change daily due to family circumstances. Monday we also had several students who were virtual last semester come back to on-site learning this semester,” Ashley said.

The district participates in the Food 4 Kids program by the Arkansas Food Bank where it provides a bag of food for students to have for the weekend. The district also provides families with a box of food once a month, again by the Arkansas Food Bank. All students are able to receive breakfast and lunch for free.

“We have a Covid Dashboard linked to our website where I update the numbers each day. This is what has been reported to us: kids who are positive, how many are in quarantine, and faculty/staff as well,” Ashley said.

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