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Arkansas teachers concerned state isn't doing enough to protect schools from COVID-19

The death of the Atkins superintendent is creating concern from some Arkansas teachers who worry the state is not doing enough to protect educators and students.

The death of the Atkins superintendent is creating concern from some Arkansas teachers who worry the state is not doing enough to protect educators and students.

The death of Jody Jenkins is worrisome for one central Arkansas teacher who wants to remain anonymous.

"I don't know how familiar you are with the education family but we're a family, we spend so much time together. Whether we personally know them or not, we know it could have just have easily been us," she said.

She believes this death was preventable, and that it brings to light the ongoing issues she sees every day in her classroom.

"They'll just walk in and pull chairs up in a circle and pull their masks down and start talking," she said. "They're not social distancing in the hallways."

She worries it won't be long before more teachers and administrators start getting sick.

"I'm very solid on this one, I do not feel as the state or central office, I do not feel that they're listening to us," she said. “I want to make it clear it’s not our building admin that’s not trying. I hear them all day long correcting student behavior.”

State commissioner Johnny Key said Jenkins' death is creating a conversation about what districts can do better.

"I've talked to superintendents today, and they are reflecting and looking at again to redouble their efforts to make sure safety precautions are in place," he said. 

"I think anytime something like this happens, anytime in the middle of a school year, it can jar a community." 

He expects more conversations about safety efforts to take place next week.

"Superintendents, principals, and teachers around the state talking about, are we doing everything that we can?" Key said.