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Arkansas parents considering virtual learning as school year approaches

As COVID cases continue to rise in Arkansas, parents are trying to decide what's best for their child: learning in a classroom or virtually?

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — At the beginning of summer, many parents were ready to send their kids back to the classroom with cases trending downwards and vaccinations available.

All of that has since changed. Parents are now having to make the decision on whether their kids will do virtual learning.

Last year Chelsea Hudspeth, a Little Rock School District parent, created an option for several families that allowed kids to have the safety of virtual learning, while still getting social interaction. 

It was a 'Learning Pod.'

"I definitely did not expect Learning Pods to be a thing again. I'm very disappointed that it has to be," Hudspeth said.

Some are going back to that option, as many other parents continue to decide whether or not to send their kids back to the classroom this upcoming school year .

Despite Hudspeth creating the option last year, she's taking a different direction this year.

"I am taking a deep breath and a huge leap and I am sending my third grader face-to-face school," said Hudspeth.

The Little Rock School District is allowing families to opt-in for virtual learning up to the first day of school. Parents can also pivot at the semester if they need a different option than what they originally chose.

"Flexibility has really been welcomed by parents. Our numbers have dramatically increased," LRSD Superintendent, Michael Poore said.

The number of kids who have chosen virtual learning for this school year has quadrupled since July, with nearly 1,000 students.

"Last year we had teachers teaching both virtual and in-person learners at the same time. This year the platform will be if you choose virtual learning you have a teacher and that's what they are dedicated for," Poore said.

LRSD's learning plan will be distributed this Friday and the board will discuss it at the next meeting.