SPRINGDALE, Ark. — The Springdale School Board voted unanimously to modify the 2020-2021 face-covering policy Tuesday (April 13) evening.
The board voted to let the policy expire after May 28, 2021, when the school year is over.
According to Springdale Schools Superintendent Jared Cleveland, face coverings will continue to be required indoors and on school buses but social distancing will not be expected.
Face coverings will be optional while outdoors or during physical activities.
Several mixed opinions were heard during the meeting and Amanda Paige, who has been a school counselor for over a decade, addressed the psychological issues she believes the mask requirement has on children.
“There not intersecting the same way with the mask that they would normally interact act with their peers,” Paige said.
Cleveland released the following statement regarding the decision:
"The Board did not make this decision lightly and took into consideration thousands of survey results and hundreds of comments from parents, students, staff, and patrons. I’m proud of the board’s student and staff-centered focus. As your Superintendent, I’m extremely proud of the work and dedication from each of you throughout this school year. We will provide more information over the coming days to your Principals and Supervisors. We are nearing the end of the school year together and I know we will remain resilient by focusing our energy on our students and finishing strong!"
Governor Asa Hutchinson lifted the statewide mask mandate on March 30 but local school districts have been able to decide whether or not to keep Covid-19 safety protocols in place.
Following the American Rescue Plan Act, Arkansas school districts must post for parents a general public plan for the safe continuation of in-person learning and continuity of services.
These plans must be posted by April 15, and each district should receive public comment to help modify the plan for summer and fall.
The Van Buren Board of Education also voted and now masks will be optional on VBSD campuses effective April 14. Students and staff will no longer be required to wear face coverings at school, and face coverings will also be optional at school-sanctioned events, including athletic competitions, concerts, and other functions on VBSD properties.