Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Monday that Arkansas schools would be closed through the remainder of the school year.

Citing ongoing health concerns about the speed of COVID-19, Hutchinson said schools would complete the year using approved Alternative Methods of Instruction. 

“I know this is a hardship,” Hutchinson said, before saying that he believes the state’s parents, teachers and schools are up to the task.

State Education Secretary Johnny Key said the state will continue working to make the best of the situation, saying it is unrealistic to expect students and parents to replicate the classroom experience at home.

“It is important for the districts to set times for teachers to be available to answer questions from parents and students,” he said.

During Monday’s announcement, the governor also said he will be sending five ventilators to Louisiana.

“I asked (State Secretary of Health) Dr. (Nate) Smith about possibility of extending ventilators to urgent needs in Louisiana,” Hutchinson said. “I asked about five. He talked to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, who said they could make five available without jeopardizing our population here. 

“I have asked them to send five ventilators to Louisiana. This week (Louisiana) Gov. (Jon Bel) Edwards is going to be confronted with a real challenge.”

As of Monday Arkansas had 875 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

Of those cases, 74 are currently hospitalized and 22 are on ventilators. 

Smith said 102 are considered to have recovered.

The breakdown of cases include 20 children younger than 20; 55 cases between ages of 18-24; 246 between ages of 25-44; 290 between the ages of 45-64; 219 older than 65.

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