Mask mandate could be back on the table for some local school districts this semester

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As kids prepare to head back to the classroom amid a COVID-19 surge, mask mandates could be back on the table.

In Fayetteville, the district’s mask mandate ended in October, with the understanding that it would be reinstated if the district reaches a certain COVID-19 threshold. It is based off of the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement map, and as of right now, the district is at that point.

Public Information Officer for Fayetteville Public Schools, Alan Wilbourn said whether staff and students have to mask up again will depend on this week’s report.

“We think that we could possibly be above it this week, but we won’t have that information until later this week,” Wilbourn said. “We’re watching that information carefully as we welcome students back on Thursday.”

While most districts across the region do not have automatic mask polices that take effect based on a certain Covid infection rate, UAMS Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Rawle Seupaul said it is something administrators need to consider.

“I’m not a politician-I’m a physician, I’m a scientist,” Dr. Seupaul said. “The science is clear: wearing a mask is protective.”

An ACHI spokesperson said the center is still waiting to receive this week’s data before sending out the update, but Wilbourn hopes it will come Wednesday so the district can email students, parents and staff to let them know if they will need to come back with a mask Thursday when school starts back.

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