LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect. Now, the next question is what about schools. The Arkansas Department of Education is leaving it up to individual school boards.
Mask on or mask off, it’s the question Arkansas school boards must decide now that Governor Asa Hutchinson lifted the statewide mask mandate. It caused a stir of opinions among Little Rock School District parents.
“They need to get away with it,” LRSD parent Isaiah Dozier said.
“We’re not ready to lift the mask mandate as of right now. Give it a little more time,” LRSD parent Byneshia Williams said.
Dozier thinks it’s time to get rid of face coverings in the classroom.
“How can a child think at the same time with a mask on his face something that’s smothering him,” Dozier said.
Williams, however, believes it’s a little too soon.
“I have a son that has asthma, so I’m scared for him to get sick. Just because we dropped down low, we can shoot back up. We just had spring break, so we don’t know all the cases that haven’t come in just yet,” Williams said.
Following Gov. Hutchinson’s announcement, district after district posted what’s next as far as face coverings in the hallways.
Little Rock School District along with Pulaski County Special School District will make their decision at the next board meeting.
“We will expect masks for students and staff for the remainder of this week and next week,” LRSD Superintendent Michael Poore said in a video statement released Tuesday.
Poore believes there is no reason to change what they’ve been doing all year long.
“The administration recommendation will be to continue wearing masks for the rest of the school year to just create safety,” Poore said.
North Little Rock and Jacksonville North Pulaski School Districts didn’t waste any time making their decision, announcing just hours later they will be requiring masks until school is out for the summer.
“Now is not the time to let up,” NLRSD parent Richard Tatum said.
For Tatum, he is all for the swift action and hopes other districts follow suit.
“I am all for maintaining the mask requirement. COVID is not done yet,” Tatum said.
Benton Public Schools will have a special called meeting Wednesday night.
The Arkansas Department of Education is recommending districts meet with their ready for learning task force that was established at the beginning of the year to get input from parents and teachers.