Dragon Strong Community

Superintendent's Update - July 7 Re-Entry Plans

What will the 2020-2021 School Year Look Like?

As you know, everything about schools changed last March. The circumstances read like a bad science fiction novel, and no courses or webinars can really prepare us how to move forward. But we will. We must. Education of our students, and the role that Mountainburg Public Schools serves in our community is too critical to contemplate otherwise.

The course we are navigating is uncertain at best. We are reflecting on lessons learned and building plans to move forward.

We honor our history through values and traditions.

  • Some of our EVENTS and TRADITIONS may be different for a time, but we will carry those same values.

We build our present through teamwork and collaboration.

  • People support what they create, and the best plans will come out of the collective genius and team work of our teaching teams. However, teamwork and collaboration takes time, and many of our plans need to be developed when teachers return.

We create our future through creativity and innovation.

  • We are all having to push past our personal concerns and fears, and imagine a different way for teaching and learning.

Thank you for understanding, encouragement, and grace as we prepare for re-entry to on-site instruction for the 2020-2021 school year. The challenge is great...but there is no greater honor for us than to serve our Dragons and our community. We are Dragon Strong. - Doc

Resuming On-Site Instruction

Classes will resume with on-site instruction. The start date has been pushed back to August 24 as the earliest start date. Once I have all the needed information I will revise the calendar.

The positive aspect of this is that we have more time to prepare. PPE orders, shipping schedules and supply chains are still impacted heavily.

This also allows us to have more preparation time at the beginning of the year. This will allow teachers to learn the LMS, train for Blended Learning (see Instructional Models below), train on new building procedures and protocols, and prepare for CRISIS Learning (see Instructional Models below).

Instructional Models

We realize that blended learning now replaces "traditional" learning. We must be prepared to continue instruction on-site and remotely when needed. Let's define and start using shared vocabulary around these instructional models:

  • Blended Learning
  • Crisis Learning
  • Virtual Learning

Blended Learning will consist of mainly on-site instruction that is a combination of face-to face instruction in a classroom and interaction with teachers, content, assignments, and assessments in a digital platform, known as a Learning Management System (LMS) such as Google classroom, or Edgenuity, etc.

Upon return to classes students and parents will practice using technology devices (chromebooks) and become skilled accessing and submitting assignment using the LMS.

Parents will be trained how to support student access to blended learning as well, for times when students are not able to attend on-site instruction due to illness, or in the event of future disruptions of on-site instruction such as bad weather, school closings, etc.

We are reviewing LMS and digital content options AND searching for ways to support those who DO and DO NOT have internet.

Crisis Learning replaces AMI days, and are times when schools are closed due for on-site instruction, whether due to pandemics, inclement weather, etc. It is important that we are able to pivot quickly from on-site instruction to Crisis Learning through our Blended Learning and effective use and training of our Learning Management Systems (LMS).

Families choosing not to return to on-site instruction with blended learning may choose a Virtual Learning Option. Students are given a device and enrolled in virtual courses with a digital content provider that serves as the student's teacher of record. We are in the process of reviewing and selecting a virtual service provider.

Additional Planning

Our Re-Entry plan will address many issues including but not limited to issues within these systems:

  • Academics
  • Student Support
  • Human Capitol
  • District and Fiscal Operations
  • Facilities & Transportation
  • Stakeholder Communications/ Family & Community Engagement


Mask or no mask?

As you know the issue of wearing masks is widely debated. We do plan for all adults to wear masks, and students grades 5 and up. It is not clear what to require or do for younger students. We have ordered 3 washable masks for all faculty, staff, and students grades 5 and up. More guidance is suggesting requiring face covering for lower grades, especially when distancing isn't possible, like hallways, busing, etc. We will continue to work on this aspect of the plan.

Desk Shields - We are reviewing and ordering shields for desks, counters, tables, etc.

Water Fountains - Drinking Fountains have to be closed for the time so we are replacing or refitting them as refillable bottle stations. This means have plans in place to use water bottles or cups. Schools will be working on plans for this.

Distancing - Tough to do, but school will develop plans for as much distancing as feasible.

Health Screenings - We are reviewing options for temp scanning, and establishing a Point of Contact for contact tracing.


Parents are encouraged to consider alternate methods of transportation.

These are current guidelines for busing:

  • Districts should designate and train staff to disinfect each bus after each trip based on current CDC and ADH guidance. CDC Cleaning Document
  • Parents should use the current ADH Guidance to screen each student prior to sending the student to board the bus.
  • All students age 10 and over are strongly recommended to wear a face covering at all times while on the bus. It is recommended that students under the age 10 wear a face covering where practical, due to the bus being a confined area where physical distancing is not feasible. This does not imply that students should be denied transportation due to not having a face covering. There may be exceptions for students with health, sensory, or other conditions. This should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Drivers should wear a face covering or mask (including cloth face covering) at all times. Districts may need to make special accommodations on mask type for drivers as needed.
  • Any aides on the bus should wear a face covering or mask (including cloth face covering). A face shield may be considered based on working with students with special needs.
  • Students should utilize district-provided hand sanitizer at the service door of each bus in the morning and before they enter the bus each afternoon.
  • Adding additional bus stops is recommended to reduce the number of students being picked up at one place.
  • Students should maintain a distance of 6 feet apart while waiting on the bus to arrive.

Athletics and Large Group Gatherings

We are still waiting to learn if athletics will resume this fall, and we are encouraged to postpone or rethinking large group gatherings. Schools will be developing new plans for Open House, Parent Teacher Conferences, PTO meetings, etc.

Next Steps

As you can see there are many moving parts, and information, directives, and guidance is very fluid.

  • Faculty are returning on contract soon, and offices will re-open July 13 with office hours from 8:00-3:30 Monday through Friday.
  • We will organize our re-entry planning into a framework based on these many systems impacted.
  • Faculty re-entry committees will be getting drafts of the plans for their review, questions, and feedback. The next board meeting is July 20 for any necessary board approval.
  • AS soon as we know all the options and have determined the virtual provider and details, we will share details with parents and have them select on-site or virtual learning (committing to a semester at a time). We will provide a FAQ sheet, and a means by which parents can pose questions.

Parents that would like to serve on the re-entry committee should submit information using this link:


Leading Dragon Strong

  • Honor our History through Values and Traditions
  • Build our present through Teamwork and Collaboration
  • Create our future through Creativity and Innovation

Dr. Debbie Atwell is serving her third year as superintendent. She and husband Roger are MHS graduates, life long residents of the community, and are owned by dogs Woodrow & Sadie.