LITTLE ROCK, Ark – The Little Rock School Board votes to extend the mask mandate for the district through the middle of April.

Little Rock School Board members came to the decision after a lengthy and heated debate from parents Thursday night.

LRSD parents were given the opportunity to share their opinions on the topic on zoom. Superintendent Michael Poore also read comments submitted by the public.

The debate was split down the middle. On one side, some parents said covid case and hospitalization numbers were too high to drop the mandate.

“There’s still 80,000 people who are positive right now myself included and I don’t think those are very good numbers in anyone’s favor,” LRSD parent Katrina Jelley said.

Jelley is a parent in LRSD. She says the mask provides the needed protection for students during the pandemic.

“A lot of kids have underlying conditions like Asthma and not protecting them when there is a big surge is really not good for the community,” Jelley said.

On the other side of the debate, some parents say it’s time to ditch the masks.

One parent comment read, “It’s ridiculous that you are still masking up our children.”

Some parents questioned how long mask mandates need to remain in place and say there are negative social impacts caused by masks.

“How many children are being harmed by not seeing their teacher’s mouth while learning to read, learning sounds and phonics,” read another comment from LRSD parent Natalie Woods.

LRSD board members in the end voted to extend the mask mandate through April 14, 2022. They will revisit the issue at that time.