Impact on Arkansas school buses: Act 1002 vs. Federal transportation executive order

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NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, AR (KNWA/FOX24) — Schools in Arkansas are trying to make sure kids stay safe from COVID-19 on the bus. Local school districts might not currently require masks for school buses, but federal transportation rules say otherwise.

Arkansas’ Act 1002, which received at temporary block from a federal judge on Friday, says that schools can’t require masks on buses. However, President Joe Biden passed an executive order in January that requires masks on all public transportation. This includes airplanes, city buses, trains, ride-shares and school buses.

“Last year there were mandatory masks on buses ant that is something I’d personally like to see as an option,” said Roger Hill, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources with Rogers Public Schools.

“One of the recommendations we’ve been given is keep the bus windows open so there is a great cross ventilation because ventilation is great for preventing the spread,” said Maribel Childress, Superintendent of Gravette Schools.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Centers for Disease Control websites say that school bus operators and passengers must wear masks, and this includes public and private school buses.

Public schools in Benton County said they are not requiring masks at this time, but they are taking other precautions to keep students and drivers safe.

“We do have a cleaning after each run and the buses are cleaned everyday,” said Hill. “Honestly we didn’t see a big spread in school or on the buses last year because of the masking and cleaning.”

The federal executive order on transportation also extends to the Razorback Transit.

“We have students, faculty and general public members who ride our buses,” said John Thomas, spokesperson for the University of Arkansas. “The rules that are in place with wearing a mask on a bus and social distancing when possible, these rules also applied inside our bus depots similar to the union station on campus. This is for the safety of our students and Razorback community.”

Given the recent injunction from the federal judge on Act 1002, some local school districts may change their mask requirements in the coming days.

The Bentonville School Board is hosting a special meeting on Wednesday, August 11th at 5:30pm to consider possible revisions to the district’s current stance on face coverings.

Rogers School District said it is also talking with legal council to weigh its options.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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