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Walmart offers shots for NW school clinics



FARMINGTON, Ark. — Walmart is offering Northwest Arkansas schools the opportunity to have on-campus covid-19 vaccination clinics.

Mallory Hudgens, a Walmart representative, shared the offer with district superintendents Thursday at the monthly Northwest Arkansas Educational Service Cooperative board meeting.

“We have some vaccine that we would like to share,” Hudgens said.

The Pfizer vaccine is approved for people 16 and older, and is expected to be approved for those as young as 12 in coming days, she said.

Bryan Law, cooperative director, asked if Walmart would be open to offering vaccinations outside of the school day to give parents and the greater community access to the vaccine.

“It could definitely be for the community,” Hudgens said. “We want to make this work for you guys.”

Schools can schedule clinics now and in the fall, she said.

Walmart wants to help achieve herd immunity, she said. The vaccinations are government-funded, and no payment or insurance would be required to receive the vaccine, she said.

Stacy Smith, Division of Elementary and Secondary Education deputy commissioner, told the group that there’s also work to be done to address learning loss during the pandemic.

Enrollment declines, mental health challenges, lack of student engagement, access to technology, loss of student credits and retention are all statewide concerns, she said.

Addressing learning loss through after-school and summer programming will be key, Smith said. Some students may benefit by scheduling some courses for more than one period a day to address losses in a particular subject, she said.

Jared Cleveland, Springdale superintendent, said teachers are tired, making summer school a challenge. Some students in his district have also lost family members to the pandemic and have to work during the summer, he said.

It’s difficult to get students and parents on board for summer school, said Jody Wiggins, Siloam Springs superintendent.

Bentonville and Springdale districts are offering higher pay as an encouragement for teachers interested in teaching summer school, administrators said. Springdale is offering $35 an hour to teach summer school, and Bentonville is offering $50 per hour.

Springdale has historically offered $25 for summer school, Cleveland said. Bentonville is currently paying teachers $35 per hour for the school year, said Debbie Jones, superintendent.

In other news, Law announced that wearing masks will be optional at the cooperative, social distancing will be reduced to 3 feet, and temperature checks and questionnaires will no longer be required beginning June 1. He said policies being enforced at the school districts have shaped the cooperative’s decision making.