EUREKA SPRINGS, Ark. – Eureka Springs School District will require all students and staff to be masked for the upcoming school year.
The Superintendent, Bryan Pruitt, and Arkansas State Representatives addressed the district’s teachers Thursday at a luncheon.
Pruit says that Arkansas is a hotspot for COVID-19 and he wants to be proactive to protect his students instead of worrying about the debates around the state.
“And our kids that are under twelve that cannot be vaccinated, they don’t have a choice. So we need to do what we can do to keep them safe, so it really wasn’t that hard of a decision for me to recommend that to our board,” says Pruitt.
The school board unanimously voted to mandate masking for the 2021-2022 school year, despite not knowing if the mandate would be allowed in the state.
Arkansas lawmakers passed Act 1002 of 2021, which prohibits state and local governments from requiring people to wear masks.
That act was temporarily blocked by an Arkansas judge last week, a ruling that Governor Hutchinson now says he supports.
“No, it really didn’t bother me. I know there’s a lot of my peers that have had a lot of tough decisions about that, but I’m looking at what’s best for our students here. And when I make those decisions I take that very seriously, but I want the safety for our kids,” says Pruitt.
Thursday at the Cresent Hotel in Eureka Springs, the district officially welcomed back and thanked teachers like High School science teacher Shawna Miller for their hard work throughout a tough period.
“We’ve been getting a lot of training that way, and we’ve also just been having discussions between the teachers and principals as far as this is what to look for and this is how to help them through it,” says Miller.
Miller says that she believes more excitement and less fear is going into this school year despite the Delta variant spreading through the region.
“Now, of course, our covid numbers are up, but we feel like we know what we’re doing, and we feel like we can handle it,” says Miller.
The Deputy Chief of Staff, Bill Gossage, was in attendance at the luncheon, as well as other representatives from the state to show their support.