Public schools in Arkansas will start the week of August 24, Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Arkansas Secretary of Education Johnny Key announced Thursday at the governor’s 100th daily Covid-19 update when he reported the state’s second highest number of new cases with 806 people testing positive for the virus.

The original school start date was August 13, the traditional start date for Arkansas public schools. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the state is delaying the start date to allow school district more time to prepare for the new school year. Schools will start as early as August 24 and no later than August 26.

“The reason for moving forward 12 to 14 days is to give the school districts more time in order to make the adjustments necessary to make sure their campus is ready (and) to make sure their teachers are prepared for the blended learning environment that we’re going to be able to go through this year,” Hutchinson said.

Key said many school districts would be ready to go August 13, but feedback from administrators, educators, parents and legislators indicated concerns about the “readiness of some districts to return to instruction on that date.”

The 806 new confirmed Covid-19 cases reported Thursday brings the cumulative number of positive cases since the pandemic began to 26,052. There were 36 more hospitalizations since Wednesday, a record single-day increase, and four more deaths attributed to the virus, bringing the total number of deaths to 309. There were 596 more recoveries, bringing the total of recoveries to 19,996, according to Arkansas Secretary of Heath Dr. Nate Smith.