Coronavirus Coverage from KARK

Parents make decisions regarding mask mandates as school starts

Coronavirus

WYNNE, Ark. – With just a weekend left before the start of school, the mask debate has come to a head.

With many school districts now mandating the use of masks, parents are weighing in on the discussion – and weighing their options when it comes to their kids.

Many school districts made their final decisions regarding masks this week after a judge blocked the State from enforcing the mandate ban. That left many parents having just a few days to decide what to do.

But for Wynne school district mom Natasha Lawson, she knew what her decision would be with or without a mandate.

“I still think it should be a parent’s choice,” Lawson said when discussing face coverings. When Lawson starting hearing about mask mandates returning to schools. she kept an eye on her fourth graders’ intermediate school, waiting to see what they would do.

For Lawson, her mind was already made up.  

“We had already decided that if the masks were going to be a mandatory thing,” Lawson explained, “that we would not send our kids to school.”

Her twin girls would take virtual classes if masks were required, a decision Lawson says was made in the best interest of her daughters. One concern was their health, with Lawson explaining, “the only time they were able to take their masks off [last year] were if they were eating or were outside.” She added that both girls’ faces had broken out from constantly wearing a mask, and said she was concerned for their breathing.

Another worry for Lawson was that masks “take out the personal factor” of being able to see a teacher, and that could even effect things like literacy training where students are encouraged to watch the teacher sound out or speak words.

Lawson added that she doesn’t believe masks are necessary for healthy individuals. “For people like us that don’t have any underlying health issues or anything like that, I just don’t see a point.” She also mentioned how neither she nor her husband have been vaccinated due to the same concern.

Wynne school district announced Thursday that masks would be recommended but optional, a similar decision to other Arkansas schools.

One of the more controversial districts was Elkins. The district announced parents could choose, but the kids would be kept separate depending on mask wearing. Elkins dad Jerry Duncan said the rule won’t change his own opinions on masks.

“Until this delta variant is under control,” Duncan said, “I think the school district should be requiring masking.”

Many schools across the state kick off class Monday morning when the mandate or lack of a mandate will take effect.

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