Bills to amend Act 1002 fail in special session; ban on school mask mandate remains


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – The Arkansas Center for Health Improvement released a new map Thursday outlining the number of new cases per 10,000 school district residents in a over a 14-day district.

Despite these bleak numbers, it seems that students who are ineligible for vaccines will not be required to wear masks in schools.

On Thursday, lawmakers voted down HB1003 and HB1004, which would have allowed school districts to mandate masks for students under 12.

“It’s really discouraging and there’s a clear crisis happening right now,” said State Senator Greg Leding (D-4). “Wearing a mask is a simple, courteous thing to do.”

For Senators Greg Leding and Bob Ballinger (R-5), constituents weighing in showed just how divided Arkansas really is over a potential mask mandate in schools.

“Parents, teachers overwhelmingly want to see Act 1002 amended, but for whatever reason we just don’t see the support here in the legislature,” Leding said.

“The reality is that we are hearing from our constituents overwhelmingly that they don’t want any mandates in place,” Ballinger said.

With no mask-related legislation passing through the legislature at this point, schools are left to find other ways to keep students safe. For Springdale Schools, this included a vaccine clinic for eligible students.

“If I wasn’t eligible I would want the mask mandate around for anybody around me because it wasn’t my choice not to be eligible for it,” said student Alondra Barron.

Barron said even though she is now vaccinated, she still plans to mask up at school.

“It’s just an easier way to stay protected even after getting the vaccine to still wear your mask, because you don’t know if anybody else doesn’t have it or not,” Barron said.

Senator Leding said a new bill can still be filed before Friday morning when the session is expected to end, but it is highly unlikely it would move forward.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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