ARKANSAS, USA — Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Tuesday that students in schools who are fully vaccinated would not be required to quarantine if exposed to COVID-19.
This is a change in policy from 2020, where students were required to quarantine for 10-14 days if they came in contact with another student or faculty member that tested positive for the virus.
"This is very important for our parents and our students," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said following the announcement. "It means that you can continue in school. You can continue with your extracurricular activities."
This change also applies to higher education institutions.
Hutchinson said the goal is to minimize education loss during the school year and erase disruptions to the workforce when parents have to make plans for their child if they are required to leave school due to a positive case.
He emphasized that this change is only for fully vaccinated students and urged parents to schedule a vaccination appointment for their children if they are eligible for the shot.
"This is not something that should wait until next year," Hutchinson said. "It needs to be done now for the students."
10% of the 12-18-year-olds in Arkansas have been vaccinated, according to Hutchinson. He hopes that number will increase over the course of the summer.
"Don't delay. Get the vaccination before classes start next year," he said.
Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Arkansas Department of Health says the number of teens fully vaccinated in the state continues to climb, and that the department is going to do more outreach over the summer to increase the numbers.
Dillaha says their department will be working with youth programs, camps, and sporting organizations to promote the vaccine to teens.
“We are looking at opportunities during the summer to vaccinate kids. Many kids need sports physicals, that is a wonderful opportunity to also provide the vaccines at the same time,” she said.
Dillaha says the more teens that are vaccinated by the next school year, the less challenges they may face navigating through classes and extracurricular activities.
If you have questions about where to get a vaccine, you can call the toll-free Arkansas COVID-19 Vaccination Hotline at 1-800-985-6030.
You can watch Gov. Asa Hutchinson's full press update from Tuesday, June 8, 2021, below.