katv andee johnson

Many students in Arkansas head to school next week, even as the rise of COVID-19 is not slowing down. In hopes of keeping everyone safe, teachers at Maumelle Middle School have spent the week preparing to welcome students back.

“I’m so ready to see the kids," said sixth-grade teacher Andee Johnson.

She says excitement is definitely higher compared to the start of last school year explaining that she's more prepared having gone through this before. Johnson said, “Your first year, you see what not to do. This is our second year, so we see things to do."

That starts with the protection of her students especially knowing the effect the delta variant is having on kids.

“My concern is I don’t want to, you know, be responsible or be the reason the child [gets] sick in my classroom," said Johnson.

The Pulaski County Special School district is now requiring students, staff, and guests to wear masks in all buildings. In Johnson's class, desk spacing isn't much of an option with her full classroom, but she says she has multiple other safeguards in place. “We have wipes we wipe down desks with," she adds. "We have hand sanitizer by the gallon.”

Johnson wants worried parents to be at ease knowing she's doing everything necessary to keep her students healthy.

“If I were a mother with kids in school, how would I want that teacher, what things would I want that teacher to do with my children in the room? Those are the things I’m going to do," she said.

PCSSD says all 500 spots for the virtual academy are accounted for, and there are more than 200 on the waitlist. Spokesperson Jessica Duff tells KATV the Arkansas Board of Education will be meeting on August 19 to approve an additional 250 students into the school.