Johnny Key

Commissioner of Education

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A Division of the Arkansas Department of Education

Resources for School Districts

Today we are releasing the latest resource in the Arkansas Ready for Learning initiative to support school districts’ preparation for the 2020-21 school year. The Response Levels for On-site Learning document will guide districts in determining and mitigating health risks associated with COVID-19 occurrences connected to on-site instruction and school activities.
In collaboration with the Arkansas Department of Health, we have established a clear communication process and a three-tiered system of response conditions based on data-informed factors. Each response level contains a matrix of operational decision points, with the associated precautions and actions increasing at each level. The three broad categories of decision points are:
  • Initial Actions After Notification
  • Considerations for Closure
  • Recommendations for Continued On-Site School Operations
The document is for assisting districts with responding to situations that may be encountered when on-site learning resumes. It is not intended to identify a district's status prior to the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

Read the Response Levels for On-Site Learning Document

Planning for School Re-engagement

What is the Arkansas Ready for Learning model?

We believe learning can happen anytime, anywhere. The COVID-19 pandemic put this belief to the test, but we were, and continue to be, unwavering in our commitment that learning must continue. In the face of COVID-19, Arkansas schools faced a real-world opportunity to assess their school and district plans. The result? Our foundation is strong! 
In order to be even more prepared for learning this fall, districts must implement strategies that focus on three key indicators for student success: blended learning, guaranteed and viable curriculum, and a student-focused approach. To assist schools with these efforts, we are providing resources and tools, as well as an opportunity to apply for waivers, that will help them achieve success.

Read the Executive Summary



Read the When School Reopens Document

Information for School Reopening

What is expected of districts? 

The 2019-2020 school year ended in an unexpected way. While districts’ responses to the crisis focused on continued engagement, preparing for the future requires more strategic planning to build on lessons learned. With state support, districts will be able to create systems that adhere to components of Arkansas’s model and:
  1. 1. Implement a system of Blended Learning that allows each student to continue learning grade level or content standards through an educational plan that leverages both technology-based and face-to-face instructional approaches.
  2. 2. Ensure flexibility to implement onsite or remote teaching and learning and to pivot as necessary.
  3. 3. Provide support for districts, teachers, parents and students to innovate and adapt to new learning opportunities. 

Districts that opt-in to the Ready for Learning model will need flexibility to implement onsite or remote teaching and learning and will receive state support for digital content, access to a Learning Management System (LMS), and an expedited process to receive waivers. Districts will need to support schools, and their teachers, parents and students, to innovate and adapt to new learning opportunities. In order to provide a strong academic setting that ensures student learning no matter the method of delivery, districts must provide a guaranteed and viable curriculum that consists of blended learning and diagnostic assessments.

  • Blended Learning allows students to continue learning grade level or content standards through the use of technology-based and face-to-face instructional approaches.
  • Diagnostic assessment for students in grades K-8 will be provided three times a year to identify student knowledge and learning gaps. This allows teachers to tailor instructional supports for each student.

How can districts be ready?

In order to provide a quality education, six educational systems must operate in harmony. The Planning for Re-engagment document highlights each system and identifies the priorities for each. Districts are encouraged to review the document and existing practices and make modifications that strengthen each system.

Read the Planning for Re-engagement Document

Planning for School Re-engagement

What resources are available for re-entry?

In an effort to help educators address lost learning that may have occurred because of school closures due to COVID-19, a team of approximately 130 educators developed a playbook that will serve as a learning guide this fall. The Playbook identifies learning standards that need review and provides lesson plans for each grade level that educators can use to address learning gaps. The playbook was developed by teachers for teachers and serves as a valuable resource for schools.

Visit the Playbook Webpage

Playbook webpage

Digital Delivery of Content

To be prepared for the upcoming school year, it is important that districts have necessary resources to continue the teaching and learning. Grade-level Standards or higher must continue to be taught next year, regardless of the COVID-19 circumstances. If instruction does/must take place off-site, districts must have in place the support for continuation of teaching new content. Curriculum, instruction, and assessment must be deliverable through multiple modes to ensure equitable access to continued teaching and learning among all students.
Funding through the state portion of the CARES Act will provide a full K-12 digital curriculum aligned to Arkansas Academic Standards to all students statewide in all public and non-public schools through a digital platform provided by the approved digital provider. Districts may choose to utilize the content on the digital provider’s platform or the content from any licensed platform already used by the district. The state provided solution will allow:
  • District and educator control of curriculum to support customization and differentiation
  • District-level control of the curriculum so schools continue to be the grade-granting entity for their students
  • Flexibility for the teachers to incorporate the content during the school day or for support in their classroom instruction by providing online assignments for enrichment or remediation
  • Flexible options for educators to package printable materials for students without access to the internet and/or downloadable content that can be delivered via device or flash drive, to ensure equity among all learners
  • Customer support that will empower districts and their educators with practical, feasible options for providing feedback, technical assistance, and professional development to educators
Information about the K-12 digital solution can be accessed here.
Additional resources are in development for CTE Blended Learning Solutions, including Digital Content and LMS Resources.
Other state partner resources include:
Team Digital is a free resource provided through the education cooperatives to provide guidance, support, and training for digital and blended learning.  Assistance and training covers a wide variety of digital learning resources. Email or call 501-504-6656.  
Arkansas Schools: As you continue developing your blended learning plans, we are excited to share that we have new modules ready to provide you guidance! In addition to Laying the Foundation for Blended Learning and Technology Considerations, we have added Curriculum Considerations and School Models. If you have not already signed up, use the District Team Request spreadsheet to request access to these resources.  
Virtual Arkansas offers supplemental online programs to Arkansas school districts. School districts can choose from a variety of courses and options to meet the needs of students. During the event of school closures and disruptions, Virtual Arkansas can provide content and online educational solutions and training for schools.
If you are ready to begin the process of utilizing the Canvas LMS and/or the Virtual Arkansas content, please complete the MOU request form below.  
  1. 1. MOU Request Form
  2. 2. Virtual Arkansas Information Session Recording
  3. 3. Virtual Arkansas Information Session Deck Slides
  4. 4. Virtual Arkansas Consortium Course Catalog
  5. 5. Virtual Arkansas Consortium Cost Evaluation Tool
Office for Innovation in Education (OIE). As a DESE partner, the OIE is a trusted colleague for change work in schools across the state -- particularly for new approaches to learning such as blended and remote practices. OIE is a free resource to all districts/schools and we are her to serve you during this pandemic, particularly for your Ready for Learning plans and implementation through one-on-one coaching, rapid planning sessions, responsive cross-district learning communities, and access and connection to high quality resources, models, and extended networks. 
  1. Learn about Re-entry Planning Support Services.

COVID-19 District and School Information

For updates about re-entry to onsite summer program activities, school communication flow chart for COVID-19, onsite PD guidance and more, please visit COVID-19 District and School Information.

What are the next steps?

To continue the flexibility districts need in order to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, plan for re-entry to onsite instruction, and implement blended learning systems, the following process will be used:

  • District submits Assurance and Application to DESE, emailed to on or before June 26, 2020.
  • State Board of Education reviews all submitted applications for approval of waivers.
  • On or before September 1, 2020, the District posts the District Support Plan to the district’s website and notifies DESE by email at
  • DESE team reviews the District Support Plan for implementation of assurances.
  • Districts not meeting requirements are referred to the State Board of Education for review.

Districts applying for additional waivers will go through the regular Act 1240 waiver process and should complete a District Waiver Request Form and email the completed form and the charter waiver list(s) to

For more information, visit the District Waiver Requests webpage.

How will districts demonstrate Ready for Learning plans?

Districts will post their District Support Plans on the district website (State Required Information) on or before September 1, 2020, and include information regarding how they will accomplish the following:
  • Ensure the continuity of teaching and learning by providing a guaranteed and viable curriculum that includes blended learning (K-12) and diagnostic assessments (K-8);
  • Identify how they will address unfinished learning from the prior year by using the Arkansas Playbook: Addressing Unfinished Learning or district developed resources;
  • Utilize a Learning Management System;
  • Schedule teacher training for how to use the LMS;
  • Schedule teacher training for blended learning (delivery of instruction);
  • Use effective technology for parents and students; and
  • Provide a written communication plan for interacting with parents, students, and the community regarding day-to-day expectations.

How do districts apply for the waivers?

Technical Assistance


Time & Date

Supporting Documents

Ready for Learning Webinar

10 a.m., June 4, 2020

Watch Recording

Presentation Slides (PPTX) (PDF)

Ready for Learning: Assurances & Application Webinar 
10 a.m., June 12, 2020

Watch Recording

Presentation Slides


Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Please email any additional questions to

State Standards

Learn more about the standards that define the knowledge and skills Arkansas students should have in order to be ready for college and careers.

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Licensure & Certification

Find critical information about renewing Arkansas educator licenses, adding areas of licensure, licensing by reciprocity from other states, background checks and more.

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