Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Cabot school board workshop draws mask mandate supporters, opponents

Education

CABOT, Ark, – It was a heated night for the Cabot School District as parents for and against masks confronted the School Board regarding the current mandate. 

The public meeting and workshop come the same day a lawsuit was filed by Cabot parents against board members, demanding the current mask mandate be lifted. 

More than a hundred parents and students filed into the Cabot High School auditorium to share their thoughts on masks in schools. Speakers were able to sign up ahead of time both for and against so that the conversation was fairly split. All those who signed up were able to speak for three minutes at a time, addressing board members directly. 

Board members agreed to hear the public’s thoughts on the mandate but have put off making any comments or decisions for the time being. In the meantime, neighbors certainly made their opinions known. 

Many against the mandate argued parents should have a higher say than the school board, and that masks cause anxiety, a lack of social interaction, and poor hygiene. 

Those for masks said the mandate was necessary for the safety of all students, and that they are currently recommended by the CDC and local medical experts to protect those who are unable to be vaccinated. 

The mask mandate in Cabot schools partially stems from a survey sent out to parents prior to the start of the ’21-’22 school year. The questionnaire saw more than 3,000 Cabot households respond. More than 60% supported requiring face coverings in all school locations for both students and staff, while around 75% supported requiring mandates for certain locations at certain times depending on collected data. 

The school board has said they will take everyone’s comments to heart and make a decision sometime in the future. In terms of the lawsuit, both the board and included parents have said they are happy to take it to court if it comes to that. 

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