Rose Bud has “a few more high school students” than expected choosing online learning for this school year instead of returning to on-campus classes, according to Superintendent Allen Blackwell.

“Honestly, that is a little bit surprising for me,” said Blackwell, who took over as superintendent July 1. “I would think they would be the ones that would want to come to school, but it’s just the opposite.

“Most of our elementary students will be here.”

Like with the other school districts in White County, Aug. 24 has been chosen for the first day of school for Rose Bud, and Blackwell said the district’s plan “is basically with the preface of this too may change before we actually get started in school depending on the Department of Health and the Department of Education.”

According to Blackwell, Rose Bud’s plan for returning to school is much like other schools with the blended learning and online opportunities. He expects the district to have “80 to 90 percent of students coming back on campus.”

Rose Bud will be following all of the Arkansas Department of Health guidelines, Blackwell said. “When we come back, face masks will be required as far as staff and students. We are planning on requiring face masks and recommending face masks for everyone below grade 4. We are following the guideline where it says for 10 and above.”

Concerning compliance, Blackwell said Rose Bud’s plans are to “highly recommend that we follow the Department of Health guidelines.”

“We are not planning on it becoming a discipline issue,” he said. “If a student absolutely refuses – at this particular time our teachers and staff are going to be asked to recommend students to wear if they cannot be socially distant – if they just are going to refuse then we are going to put them in a position where they just aren’t going to be close to others.

“The principals and I feel that we can keep this from becoming a discipline issue. We have not made the decision to threaten them to put them in virtual school.”

The district will follow a list of general safety precautions, Blackwell said. Visitors will be limited to essential business only. Outdoor spaces will be utilized for learning. Class sizes will be smaller. Meals will be served in smaller group settings in in alternate locations. Desks will be placed in a socially distanced fashion. Lunches, recesses and other transition times will be staggered.

When it comes to bus riding, students in grades kindergarten through 12 will be required to wear a mask on the bus. The bus drivers will wear masks ,and hand sanitizer will be available for everyone to use when entering and leaving the bus. Disinfection of the busses will happen after each trip.

If virtual students wish to take part in extracurricular activities, including athletics and band, the parent will have to provide transportation to those activities.

To find out more about Rose Bud’s re-entry plan, visit the Rose Bud School District Facebook page.

Rose Bud’s back-to-school open house will be Aug. 20 from 1:30-7:30 p.m. Elementary parents will be contacted by staff to make an appointment. Seventh-graders and any new students to the district can come to the high school wearing a face mask and practicing social distancing to see their classroom and get a tour. High school parents and students can call the administration office for an appointment if they would like to meet their teachers.

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