Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Some Sheridan parents putting pressure on school board to require mask

Education

SHERIDAN, Ark. — Just as the second week of school comes to a close, Sheridan School District has more than 10% of its student body in quarantine.

Students at Sheridan schools hit the hallways for the second week of the 2021 school year, but as each day comes and goes more kids are stepping out of the classroom and learning from home. As of Thursday, almost 60 students have COVID-19 putting more than 520 kids into quarantine.

“Watching those numbers climb that quickly was shocking,” Sheridan School District Parent Janery Barnes said.

Barnes has a daughter who is a senior at Sheridan High school.

“She lost basically all of her color guard seasons her junior year and we were so looking forward to her color guard season her senior year and I see it slipping away,” Barnes said.

She believes the numbers would be much lower if a mask mandate had been put in place.

“I don’t think I’ve met anyone that says they want to wear a mask. Did I think that we needed and was it the socially responsible thing to do? Absolutely,” Barnes said.

The Sheridan School District released this statement:

“The Sheridan School District’s theme for the 2021-22 school year is Rise Above. Last year was extremely difficult for us all. As we begin this new school year, we are committed to rising above our obstacles, setbacks, fears, and worries. Despite our circumstances and the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we are excited to be back at school. While face coverings are optional this school year, we have continued many of the social distancing measures we had in place last year, and we continue to be diligent with contact tracing and sanitizing classrooms. We also carried forward a virtual learning option for students who are not comfortable attending school onsite. In an effort to maintain transparency with our families regarding the number of positive COVID-19 cases and quarantines in our school district, we keep a COVID-19 Dashboard on our website that is updated each weekday.”

Another parent, Heather Rutherford doesn’t think that is enough.

“It’s going to continue to grow and get out of control I believe,” Rutherford said.

Rutherford has a student who is not eligible for the vaccine. She believes masking is the only way to protect those under 12.

“There will never be an easier time, I hope not, to save a life as there is right now. It’s as simple as covering your nose and mouth,” Rutherford said.

Both parents are putting pressure on the Sheridan school board, saying it is not too late to keep everyone safe and in the classroom.

“We’ve got to decide if we want to stick to our guns and keep the masks optional or if we want to keep our kids in school,” Barnes said.

We did reach out to school board members. Vice President Byron Hicks responded.

I believe it will be a topic of discussion.  I would not, however, be comfortable speculating on an outcome at this point,” Hicks said.

The next school board meeting is on September 13th.

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