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Arkansas school district delays 1st day to test staff for COVID-19

The sudden change before the first day of school left many parents with mixed emotions as the district prepares for the coronavirus.

WOODLAWN, Ark — The Woodlawn School District didn't reopen as planned Monday morning. 

Education Commissioner Johnny Key said someone who works in the cafeteria tested positive and had six close contacts.

At 10 p.m. on Sunday night, the school district posted on their high school's Facebook page and website for parents to not bring their children to school until further notice, so staff can receive COVID-19 testing. 

This sudden change came with many mixed emotions from parents like Torey Jallow. 

"I went on Facebook and I read a post from a teacher saying Woodlawn's not having school and I'm like, are you serious," she said. 

Jallow woke up Monday morning and got her kids ready for, what she thought, was going to be their first day of school.

"I would've never known until I drove over there. They should've at least called somebody or sent a letter or something," she said. 

Jallow got confirmation after calling a teacher that she wouldn't be able to send her 5-year-old son, Hollis, and her 3-year-old son, Circe, to school hours before she was ready to hit the road. 

"Hollies goes, 'That's not fair, they shouldn't have done that already. That's not fair,'" she said. 

Jallow said she's glad they caught it before she sent her kids inside, but she's confused about the guidelines.

"I just think that if it is their regulations to get all the teachers tested and stuff before school started, it should've already been done," she said. 

A parent of a high school senior and kindergartner, Marty Reed, said he heard about the delay Sunday night, but it wasn't a shock to him.

"We've all pretty much come to anticipate this problem coming up at some point, so I was not that surprised. I was a little surprised that it happened as quickly as it did," he said. 

Reed said hearing the announcement left him with gratefulness for the district he trusts his children with. 

"The right decision isn't always the easy decisions to make, so I think they made a call that they felt like was in the best interest of students and staff," he said. 

Both Jallow and Reed agreed this doesn't give them any hesitations for when the time comes to send their kids back to the classroom. 

"This pandemic is something that we are all going to have to deal with at some point. It's not going to go away. We just have to learn how to adjust and how to deal with it as it comes our way," Reed said. 

The Woodlawn School District hopes to start school Wednesday, Aug. 26.

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