FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and the new Delta variant, the Fayetteville Board of Education voted 6 to 0 in favor of implementing masks for this upcoming school year.
The Board held a special meeting at 5 p.m. at the Adams Center Monday, Aug. 9 to discuss requiring face coverings despite ACT 1002.
The board said they are following guidance from health leaders to protect students and families in Fayetteville by following the Center for Disease Control's guidelines.
“From Kindergarten through 12th grade, from all of our grades, from all of our buildings, Vaccinated or unvaccinated we are requiring masks indoors," said Fayetteville School Board Education President Nika Waitsman. “Currently CDC guidelines recommend that all vaccinated and unvaccinated people wear masks.”
Fayetteville is the first school district in the area to vote to implement mask-wearing in schools this fall, but not all parents agree.
“I think there are negative consequences that we are not considering," said April Florida, a parent in attendance of the meeting who spoke of the social, psychological and emotional effects masks have had on her children.
Fayetteville teachers and staff also took the opportunity to express their support for maks to the board.
“I see that you guys are trying to protect our students from something that is much worse than it was last year," said Fayetteville teacher Mr. B. "Masking worked, it kept our schools open.”
Another Fayetteville teacher, Neal Norbert spoke in support of the mask by stating, "whatever can keep the kids in the seats in front of me I support.“
The school board did say there will be exemptions for the mask requirement for those with certain medical conditions and that they will be revisiting the mask policy in October to decide whether to keep it in place.
The Bentonville Board of Education will be holding a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 11 at 5:30 P.M. to consider a possible revision on the district's current policy regarding masks. this comes in response to Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox's temporary block against the Arkansas law prohibiting government entities, including school districts, from imposing masks mandates.
"I'm writing to let you know a preliminary injunction was issued against Act 1002, temporarily blocking the state from enforcing a law concerning face masks," said an official in a letter sent to parents from the Bentonville School District. "The court ruled the state cannot prevent schools from requiring face masks. This continues to be a fluid issue, but we must act on the information we have available currently."
The Bentonville School Board meeting will be open to the public, but COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place for the meeting. For more information about the safety protocols and attend the special meeting, please visit the Bentonville Schools website.