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Elkins classrooms separating masked, unmasked students

Elkins' superintendent sent a letter to parents detailing the mask separation guidelines within the district's classroom.

ELKINS, Ark. — The first day of school for Elkins students begins Wednesday, August 18th.

Grades K-12 are not required to wear facemasks, but teachers will be required to have masked and unmasked students sit on separate sides of the classroom.

Last week, Elkins Superintendent Jeremy Mangrum sent a letter to parents stating the separation guidelines for masked and unmasked students. the says the unmasked students will sit together on one side of the classroom, and unmasked students will sit on the other, separated by 6 feet of distance. 

Mangrum says the separation is to reduce the chances of masked students having to quarantine if they are exposed to COVID-19. 

A licensed school psychologist says this division between students will have an impact.

"One way or the other, they aren't accepted because they don't have a mask on, or they aren't accepted because they don't have a mask on, there will be that feeling of "I can't be in that group over there," says Dr. Virginia Krauft. 

In response, some parents who are sending their kids back to school are having conversations with their student about treating everyone with kindness, regardless of their mask or vaccine status. 

“You have your vaccinated versus unvaccinated, your masked versus unmasked, Democrats versus Republicans, everything is division, we cannot do that in our classrooms," says Amie Putnam, who has six children in the school system.

The Elkins School District also mentioned in the letter that last year their greatest instructional challenge was time lost with students during quarantine periods.  We reached out to Superintendent Mangrum to find out if the same rules will apply in the cafeteria or other school settings, but we did not hear back.

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