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The Crossett School District has moved two grades to virtual learning and canceled the Ashley Bowl, but officials said it’s been done as precaution and not because a large number of students and staff have tested positive for COVID-19.

Superintendent Gary Williams said that even though the district doesn’t have a large number of positive cases of the virus, the cases that have been confirmed have come into contact with a lot of people. 

Williams said there is only one active case at the Crossett Middle School, where they have now moved the seventh and eighth graders to virtual learning. The reason the seventh and eighth grade have been moved to virtual for the week is because a large number of teachers are quarantined for 14 days and the school doesn’t have an adequate number of substitutes and staff to fill in.

“I think there is some confusion between a positive case and someone who is quarantined as a precaution,” Williams said. “Right now, we have a lot in our district who have tested negative, but who are quarantined because of close contact,” he said.

Williams said the teachers who are quarantined are healthy and able to teach classes, but they don’t need to be out in public “just in case.”

Williams said Tuesday night the district has 10 active cases. He said he does not know the full breakdown, but three of those positives were at the high school building, one at the middle school and two at the elementary building. The district has people on staff who have been working to trace those cases and contact and quarantine anyone who may have come into contact. 

“If someone has not been contacted directly then there is no need for them to quarantine,” Williams said. The school nurses have been using camera tracing in addition to seating charts and other practices that have been put in place to help with tracing who has been in contact with a positive case.

Williams said that so far the district hasn’t had any transmissions in the classroom. The people who have contracted the virus have not gotten it while sitting in class, but instead from outside activities.

“This is not the first time this year that we’ve had active cases, but some impact more than others and if someone who is positive has been in close contact with a large number of people then we have to quarantine more people; and in this situation we’ve had to quarantine quite a bit of our staff,” Williams said.  

The switch to virtual learning for seventh and eighth grade will last through the week and could possibly go into next week. 

Williams said the district is working to bring in substitutes and move staff around so that they can bring the seventh and eighth grade back to in-person learning next week. The issue is that the teachers who are quarantined will not be released next week, he said. 

“We know for sure they will not be back, but we are hoping we can come up with some alternative because we want to get these students back on campus as quickly as we possibly can without compromising anyone’s health,” Williams said.

Another large group that has been impacted by the positive cases is the football team and coaching staff. The entire football team and all of the coaches are quarantined at this time. The football game scheduled for this Friday has been canceled and the Ashley Bowl that was scheduled for Oct. 23 has been canceled as well.

Williams said the district is working to keep the public updated by keeping its website and social media pages current and also by sending out messages to parents through an automated phone messaging system.

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