ARKANSAS, USA — The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) has released COVID-19 safety guidance for schools for the upcoming school year with outdated guidelines from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report uses data from July 9, when the state's surge of new COVID-19 cases was ramping up.
On Tuesday, July 27, the CDC updated its guidelines to say people fully vaccinated should continue to wear face coverings while indoors in areas deemed COVID hotspots despite being immunized against the virus. Over the last few weeks, Arkansas has led the nation per capita for new COVID-19 cases.
The ADE recommends consistent and correct mask usage in all school settings for children under the age of 12.
Currently, public schools in the state can not establish mask mandates for students, faculty and staff, or require vaccinations due to laws passed by the Arkansas Legislator.
The ADE says individuals exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19 will not need to be quarantined if they have no symptoms and both the infected and exposed individuals were wearing masks.
In their guidance, the ADE recommends that schools help students eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines get their shots. They say actions districts can take include initiating vaccination campaigns, hosting medical professionals, and sponsor vaccination clinics at local school sites.
Fully vaccinated students or staff do not need to quarantine if deemed close contacts unless they have developed symptoms. It's unclear if this will change as cases continue to surge.
5NEWS reached out to the ADE to ask about releasing their guidance the same day the CDC changed their face mask recommendations. They said they would review the CDC changes and adjust their guidance accordingly but did not release a timeline on when that will be done.
You can read their full guidelines by clicking this link.
Watch 5NEWS tonight at 10 for a full report on the ADE's guidance.