FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Arkansas Department of Education released COVID-19 safety guidelines for the upcoming school year Tuesday, but one Fayetteville mom is scared it might not be enough.
Shannon Servoss is a mom of three students, all under 12 years old. The recent surge in COVID-19 cases is making her rethink sending her children back in person.
“We are totally on the fence,” Servoss said.
The ADE’s guidance encourages vaccinations for those older than 12, advises physical distancing in the classroom and masks for unvaccinated students and staff. However, Dr. Joel Tumilson with the Arkansas Department of Health, said an updated version of the school guidance could come out next week to reflect the new CDC guidance that encourages masks for all people when indoors, in areas of high COVID-19 transmission.
Dr. Tumilson encourages parents who are worried to send their kids back in person to reach out to their school district to understand how it plans to mitigate COVID-19.
“Talk to your school or look at the communication your school has given and find out if they’re doing those multiple layers of mitigation strategy,” Tumilson said.
Public school districts in Arkansas are currently not allowed to mandate masks because of Act 1002, which bans mask mandates for public entities. Servoss believes this needs to be changed to protect students, especially the younger ones.
“I think there needs to be a mandate in at least in the elementary, and the middle schools, in order to make any real difference in the transmission rate in the classrooms,” Servoss said.
Fayetteville Public Schools could not comment on plans for the upcoming school year Wednesday, but the school board is expected to discuss the plans at its meeting, Thursday, July 29.