ROGERS, Ark. — A Northwest Arkansas law firm is set to challenge a state law banning mask mandates for schools.
Students are expected to head back to the classroom within the next month. Some Arkansas parents are worried about sending their kids back to school without a mask requirement.
Arkansas currently leads the country with the highest rate of new COVID-19 cases.
“Our son won’t be provided a safe environment if he goes back face-to-face because the school can’t mandate masks,” said Veronica McClane. She has a 3-year-old and an 8-year-old.
Act 1002 prevents counties, cities, and school districts from making masks a requirement. Governor Asa Hutchinson signed off on the legislation in April of 2021. The bill's author says it was written to offer people personal choice and says people can still wear masks if they choose.
“If you want to wear a mask, you want to have your children wear a mask. If you want to get vaccinated if you’re over the age of 12. If you want to remote learning, I believe that’s a choice people should have the choice to do,” said Senator Trent Garner (R- El Dorado).
However, some parents say the bill goes against science and are advocating for the lawsuit.
“We learned that the mask work and that the schools were able to stay open,” said Dustin Seaton, teacher and parent of a 6-year-old and 8-year-old.
He says he’s worried because he has an auto-immune disease and his children aren’t old enough to get the vaccine. He doesn’t think removing the mask was the correct thing to do.
“They voted to prohibit the mask mandate again," said Seaton. "It’s like trying to get us to put out a fire without any water."
As the number of COVID cases rises across our state, more and more children are hospitalized because of the virus. Parents say they are concerned for their child’s safety and have to make a decision.
“Really makes us question whether or not we can send him back,” McClane said, speaking about the decision she and her husband must make.
Senator Garner says the government and schools should not dictate people’s personal healthcare choices.
“If you want to send your kids to school without a mask. Like, thousands of parents want to do across the state, you should have that choice as well,” said Sen. Garner.
Thursday (July 21) at 6:30 p.m., Mars Law Firm hosts a Zoom session and invites any parents to join and learn more about the lawsuit and suggest concerns if you would like to be a part of the Zoom email firstname.lastname@example.org.