The Vilonia School District announced additional details of the district’s reopening plans this week, including the announcement that all students in grades K-12 will be required to wear face masks when classes start on Aug. 24.

In a letter to parents that was revised with additional information on Thursday, district Superintendent David Stephens said students are expected to provide their own face coverings, while students who refuse to wear them will be sent home. Additionally, students who lose their masks will be provided one by the school for short term use.

The mask requirement will extend to buses, Stephens said.

“Due to the bus being a confined area where physical distancing is not possible, all riders and drivers are required to wear a face mask while on the bus,” he said.

In addition to the mask requirement, parents and students will notice other changes to regular district policy when classes begin in August. Lunch schedules will be adjusted to accommodate social distancing in cafeterias and water fountains will be unavailable for use. Students are encouraged to bring filled water bottles to campus in lieu of using the water fountains, the Vilonia School District superintendent said.

For parents, visitors will not be allowed into the district’s facilities and parents will be unable to walk their children into school with one exception. Parents of kindergarteners may walk their children to their classrooms on Aug. 24 only at 9 a.m. Parents will be required to wear face masks while inside district facilities.

To sanitize the buildings, the district has bought foggers to disinfect classrooms on a daily basis.

While many students will be attending school on campus, others will be taking advantage of the district’s virtual school option, which parents must commit to in nine-week increments. Stephens said students involved in the district’s virtual option will still be able to take part in sports and other extracurricular activities, as they are still Vilonia students. More information on the district’s virtual learning option will be available at 7 p.m. July 27.

Stephens said he understands the complexity of the situation ahead for staff, parents and students.

“I realize that this is a difficult and confusing season for all of us,” he said. “We at Vilonia Schools are committed to providing the greatest educational experience possible for your child, regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.”

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