Special session called to vote on school mask mandate ban; local district reacts

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PRAIRIE GROVE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As COVID-19 cases continue to climb and the new school year gets closer and closer, Governor Asa Hutchinson is suggesting some reconsideration for mask mandates.

Hutchinson is calling for a special session to amend Act 1002 which bans state and local mask requirements, potentially giving schools the decision to impose masks.

“It’s a conservative principle to utilize local decision making and not everything fits statewide,” the governor said. “This is necessary, really, for providing local school boards the ability to protect those most vulnerable- young people 12 and under-as they go to school.”

Prairie Grove Assistant Superintendent David Kellogg said if it does become up to the districts to decide on mask policies, he is not sure what the school board will decide.

“Our board- like so many in the spring- voted not to have masks the last few days in the school and everyone felt good about the decision because of the conditions and what they were,” Kellogg said.

But, with cases climbing since that point, plans outside of masking are in place.

“We’ve been having plans virtually since even before school was out,” Kellogg said.

Kellogg said each Prairie Grove school has already developed its own virtual options for the year. The district is also following Department of Education COVID-19 guidance regarding quarantine policies and vaccine recommendations.

“We have the concern for students health and safety all the time, every day,” Kellogg said. “We’ve used the term in the last year and a half, ‘Unprecedented,’ well we’re hitting unprecedented again.”

To see the district’s plan for the 2021-2022 school year, click here.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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