Little Rock School Superintendent Michael Poore

Little Rock School District Superintendent Michael Poore

(The Center Square) – Students in the Little Rock School District will be taking classes virtually for at least two days because of an increase in COVID-19 cases, Superintendent Michael Poore said. 

A large number of people were out when classes resumed Wednesday because they were diagnosed with COVID-19 or were quarantined, Poore said in a video message.

"That impacted transportation to food service to teachers and classified staff and, of course, we had a large number of students out," Poore said. "I say this with respect (to) the fact (of) how important we know in-person (learning) is, but I need to tell you that we are going to shift for the next two days to be in a virtual delivery for instruction."

Poore said he did not have enough data to back a decision to close the schools Wednesday. 

"The data now does speak to the fact that this is the appropriate next step," Poore said.

A decision on when students will return to in-person learning will be made Sunday, he said. 

Seventh and eighth-graders in the North Little Rock School District also are learning virtually, according to a post on the school system's website. 

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said Tuesday that COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing because of the highly contagious omicron variant. The state set a one-day record Wednesday with an additional 7,488 cases, Hutchinson said in a Twitter post. Forty-four hospitalizations were reported. 

"The new high in cases is consistent with what we’re seeing with Omicron across the country," Hutchinson said in the post. "Hospitalizations is the key statistic and it's disappointing that vaccinations are increasing only moderately." 

The governor said Tuesday during his weekly news conference school districts should "affirmatively look at whether a mask requirement is needed in the school," citing statistics that show COVID-19 cases are 25% lower in schools with masks. 

Hutchinson signed into a law a bill that banned school systems from implementing mask mandates. A Pulaski County judge struck down the law last week, saying it didn’t differentiate between public and private schools.

Associate Editor

Kim Jarrett's career spans over 30 years with stops in radio, print and television. She has won awards from both the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.