BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Bentonville Schools Superintendent Dr. Debbie Jones announced in an update to parents on Dec. 20 the district has updated its COVID-19 protocols for January.

Jones cites data from the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement, saying the district is approaching an elevated zone characterized by 30 or more positive cases.

The update acknowledges that while they cannot legally require face coverings for staff and students, they can revise their protocols for the month of January, which include:

  • Water fountains will remain off in schools.
  • A minimum separation of three feet in all indoor spaces, at drop off and pick-up.
  • Face coverings are STRONGLY recommended on school buses.
  • Face coverings will be STRONGLY recommended should positive cases reach 30 or above, according to ACHI,  while indoors.
  • Non-essential guests and visitors will be restricted.

The protocols will be in effect throughout the month until they are reassessed at its conclusion.

The district will not be implementing a mask mandate, however.

Earlier in the school year, a group of parents filed a lawsuit against the district’s mask requirement that was in place. On October 6, 2021, a Benton County Judge issued a temporary injunction against the mandate.