FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – It won’t be long before long kids are back in the classroom, and because of that, state agencies are scrambling to figure out the safest way to go back to school.
It has been an ongoing conversation since cases started to spike again here in Arkansas, will there or will there not be guidelines in the classroom. According to the Arkansas Board of Education, there will be something.
“This has been an ongoing conversation, and we’re working on that same guidance right now. Whether mask or no masks, what will those policies and pieces look like going forward, those are the things right now that we’re having discussions around,” said deputy commissioner for elementary and secondary education division for the Arkansas Department of Education, Stacy Smith.
Chancellor for UAMS, Dr. Cam Patterson, said he’s also been weighing in on the conversation.
“Probably the most asked question that I get is will schools be safe, and my answer is if everyone is masked up, then schools can be safe,” said Dr. Patterson.
An official statement about school guidelines for the fall has not been released yet; however, from a legal standpoint, there’s a good chance masks will not be included.
“A law was passed that prohibits governmental agencies from mandating the use of masks,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer Dillaha.
But even if the ADH isn’t able to require masks in the classroom, Dr. Dillaha said protecting our children is a must.
“Our concern is those children who would become seriously sick. We’ve had a number of hospitalization in Arkansas for children who’ve had the multisystem inflammatory syndrome, and that can be deadly if it’s not treated,” said Dr. Dillaha.
When it comes to the actual release of school guidelines for the coming school year, Dr. Dillaha says it should be out before the end of the week.