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On or Off: Where schools stand on lifting mask mandate

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Generic photo of face masks(Storyblocks)
Updated: Apr. 15, 2021 at 8:19 AM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - While state leaders say face masks should no longer be required, area school officials say they remain a must on their campuses.

During his weekly COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, March 30, Gov. Asa Hutchinson he was lifting the state’s mask mandate effective immediately.

However, several school district administrators in Northeast Arkansas say they will continue to require their students, faculty, and staff to wear masks.

Here’s where districts in our area stand on the issue:

  • Armorel School District: Announced the school will continue to follow CDC and ADH guidelines on wearing masks on campus, on school buses, and at school activities. The district will monitor the situation closely and provide updates as needed.
  • Batesville School District: Announced the district will continue to maintain its mask use protocol on all campuses through the end of the spring semester.
  • Blytheville School District: Administrators announced the district would continue to follow the CDC and ADH recommendations in wearing masks while on school campus, buses, and any school activities until the end of the semester.
  • Brookland Public Schools: The school board voted to make mask-wearing optional on April 5. If the district has 10 percent of the student body or 10 percent of the faculty in quarantine, masks will become mandatory.
  • Buffalo Island Central School District: BIC announced on April 14 its board of education had voted to make wearing masks at school optional for staff and students. They will continue to follow all other safety measures recommended by the CDC, including social distancing, checking temperatures upon arrival, using sanitizers and individual water bottles, etc.
  • Cave City School District: The school board met on Monday, April 5, and decided to keep the mask mandate through April 16.
  • Corning School District: The school board decided to continue the mask mandate until the end of the school year.
  • Cross County School District: Announced the district will lift the mask mandate. In a letter, Superintendent Dr. Nathan Morris said “the lifting of the mandate is contingent on county data and case numbers. If case numbers rise, the district will consider placing the mask mandate back into effect.” Dr. Morris continued to encourage social distancing and following proper health procedures. You can read the letter in its entirety here.
  • East Poinsett County School District: Announced that all staff members and all K-12 students will be required to wear a mask through the end of the 2020-2021 school year at all school facilities, including buses.
  • Forrest City School District: In a letter, Superintendent Dr. Tiffany Hardrick said all safety protocols as outlined in their Ready for Learning Plan will continue to be implemented until the next school board meeting on April 15. You can read the letter in its entirety here.
  • Greene County Tech School District: The GCT School Board of Directors met on Thursday, April 15, and approved an optional policy for wearing face masks for students and staff. The district asked for people to please respect the decisions of others for choices made in regards to wearing masks. Masks will still be provided to staff and students who request them. If positive cases should increase, the GCT School Board of Directors will review current policies in place and could make additional revisions to the districts ready to learn plan, which is posted on the district’s webpage. Masks will now be optional during prom Friday, April 16.
  • Harrisburg School District: The school district announced in a post on the Harrisburg Middle School’s Facebook page, the district will no longer require masks beginning Tuesday, April 5. “Those who choose to wear a mask may still do so.,” Superintendent Chris Ferrell said in the shared post.
  • Highland School District: Announced the school will continue to follow CDC and ADH guidelines by requiring students and staff to wear a mask while on campus. School board and administration officials will review current policy and will notify students and parents if changes are made.
  • Hillcrest School District: The wearing of a face covering is now, as of April 2, 2021, optional. We ask that everyone respect the decisions of others for the choice that they make in regards to wearing masks. Masks will still be provided to staff and students requesting them.
  • Hoxie School District: The school board will make a decision regarding masks when it meets again on April 12.
  • Izard County School District: The Izard County School District will follow the directive of the Governor and masks will no longer be a requirement for the students and staff at Izard County Schools. However, masks will be made available for everyone on all three campuses.
  • Jackson County School District: Staff and students will continue to wear masks and adhere to CDC guidelines for the remainder of the year.
  • Jonesboro Public Schools: Announced on March 30 it would continue to follow CDC guidelines and keep masks and other safety precautions (quarantining, social distancing, etc.) in place for the 2020-21 school year. “We want to ensure our students and staff are safe, healthy, and have the least amount of exposure to the virus as possible,” administrators said in a news release.
  • Manila Public Schools: Announced on March 31, the district will continue with its current mask policy. “We understand there are differing opinions regarding the mandate, but we believe this is the safest decision for all students and staff members.”
  • Marked Tree School District: Superintendent Matt Wright announced on Sunday, March 28, the district would follow CDC guidelines and enforce masks on campus. “Masks, along with the other procedures that we’ve put in place, [have] worked to help keep our kids safe,” he said in a YouTube video.
  • Maynard School District: The district announced that masks and social distancing will continue to be enforced until the school board meets on April 13.
  • Melbourne School District: The district will continue to follow CDC guidelines while awaiting guidance from its school board.
  • Mountain View School District: Announced masks will be optional starting Wednesday, March 31. This applies to classrooms and school buses. Students and staff can wear a mask if they choose.
  • Nettleton School District: In a Facebook post, Dr. Karen Curtner stated that the Nettleton School Board unanimously approved the continuation of the mask policy for the remainder of the school year.
  • Piggott School District: The school board voted on April 13 to continue masks and social distancing until the end of the school year.
  • Pocahontas School District: Effective April 5, wearing a mask will be an option and not a requirement in the Pocahontas School District.
  • Rector School District: The school board voted Monday, April 11, to make masks optional.
  • Rivercrest School District: At its April 13 school board meeting, the district approved a new mask policy. Masks will be optional but strongly encouraged.
  • Riverside School District: The district will continue to follow CDC guidelines through Tuesday, April 6th. The district will release further guidance after the school board meeting on Monday, April 5th.
  • Sloan-Hendrix School District: The Sloan-Hendrix School Board has approved that masks will no longer be a requirement for our students and staff. The wearing of masks will now be optional.
  • Trumann School District: Beginning April 1, the district will “encourage” students and staff to follow ADH and CDC guidelines on campus, both at school and on buses. Temperatures will continue to be taken daily, along with screenings. Social distancing will continue on campus, and plastic shields/hand sanitizer/disposable masks will continue to be provided. CDC cleaners/foggers will remain in use and visitors must wear masks when entering the building.
  • Valley View School District: Beginning April 23, K-12 students and staff will wear masks in hallways, on buses, and in congested areas where social distancing isn’t possible. When in class, students will follow the mask policy as assigned by the teacher. The maximum distancing of student desks will continue, students will be screened daily, and school staff/custodians will clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces
  • Westside Consolidated School District: Starting April 1, the district will make masks optional for students and staff on all campuses.
  • Wynne School District: The district will continue following COVID-19 safety precautions through the end of the year. All staff, students, and visitors will wear masks in all schools and district facilities. Social distancing and hand washing will continue.

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