School districts weigh in on back to school plans

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – On Thursday, lawmakers voted down HB1003 and HB1004, which would have allowed school districts to mandate masks for students under 12; however, Friday, an Arkansas judge has temporarily blocked the state from enforcing the law. 

As of right now, it doesn’t look like Rogers or the Alma school district will be taking advantage of the judge’s temporary block; they said it’s just too soon to make the call. 

“But we want to just hit the pause button and evaluate and make sure that we understand what the options and the implications are. In the words of a good friend of mine, we don’t want to hurry to make a mistake,” said assistant superintendent of the Rogers public school district Charles Lee. 

“It is just too early in the judicial process for us to be assuming that the law has changed. Right this minute, the law has changed, but come back in an hour,” said superintendent of the Alma school district David Wooley. 

However, health professionals and educators have been working on back-to-school plans for weeks, assuming they wouldn’t be able to require masks.

“We’re going to encourage what we did last year in terms of safety measures, with the executions of masks, of course,” said Wooley.

Both districts say they know they’ll be dealing with positive COVID-19 cases at one point or another, and when they do, there’ll be a quarantine plan in place.

“The reason we’re encouraging face coverings is that if the positive cases and the close contact are both wearing a face mask, then the close contact does not have to quarantine,” said Lee. 

Quarantines that are not easy on the teachers or productivity.

“You hit the nail on the head there. The blended learning model where the students could still access course work from home was probably the most difficult, but we try to still give the kids access from home from zoom or google meet to access their course work,” said Lee.

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