ROGERS, Ark. — Arkansas lawmakers left Little Rock Friday, August 6, without passing any legislation that would give schools the ability to require masks. However, school districts might get to enforce it because a judge in Pulaski County temporarily blocking Act 1002 from being enforced.
Parents with children who go to Rogers Public Schools received a letter Thursday, August 6 with what is need to know for this school year. The school district stated the plan for the school year was made with the understanding that Act 1002 would be in place for the upcoming school year.
“Nothing has significantly changed for us other than the mask mandate," said Assistant Superintendent, Charles Lee."We can’t mandate that now because of the law, but we will be encouraging individuals, all individuals to wear a face-covering while there in school and large group gatherings."
Rogers schools are also encouraging social distancing, frequent hand washing and vaccinations for everyone eligible. Lee said the school district will still be doing contact tracing in the event there is a positive case.
“The benefit of the encouragement of the face mask. If a positive individual has a face covering on and an identified close contact has that face-covering on as well, they don’t have to quarantine,” said Assistant Superindentent Lee.
Schools in Rogers and Fayetteville are both waiting to get more information before they decide what to do now that Act 1002 has been temporarily blocked.
Fayetteville Schools will also have almost the same safety protocols in place as the 2020 year.
“Strongly encouraging the wearing of masks, washing hands, keeping a social distance when we can, primarily because we know it worked," said Fayetteville Schools Spokesman Alan Wilbourn. "We were able to go the entire school year last year without one school having to pivot or close and that was due in large part to the dedication of our students and staff to following those guidelines."
Fayetteville Schools are also highly encouraging the COVID-19 vaccination. The Fayetteville schools are reporting 94% of the staff have been vaccinated and are confident in making this school year a success despite the tough times of 2020.
“Back in January we had over 500 students that were in quarantine, but as we continued throughout the year, in particular, as more staff began to get vaccinated, the number of staff positive cases plummeted, and it stayed at almost zero,” said Warren.