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COVID NEWS IN BRIEF: El Dorado schools now require masks | Springdale schools’ policy is for 30 days | Pulaski Tech issues order to cover up

August 12, 2021 at 3:59 a.m.

El Dorado schools now require masks

The El Dorado School Board voted in a special meeting Wednesday to require students and staff members to wear masks on district premises to fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The meeting was called after a preliminary injunction by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox on Aug. 6 to temporarily block the state’s ability to enforce Act 1002 of 2021, which bans mask mandates by most state and local governmental entities, including public schools. Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, was the primary sponsor of the legislation that became Act 1002.

District Superintendent Jim Tucker presented five mask policy proposals put together by him, “some other superintendents and local district employees” to the seven-member board. The proposals ranged from recommending masks to requiring them; three proposals gave certain conditions. The board opted for the policy without conditions.

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Board member Todd Whatley asked what the current positivity rate in Union County was.

“That’s a great question. The positivity rate for Union County right now is 18%. It’s had an 8% spike in the past week,” Tucker said.

Tucker said he was pleased with the board’s decision.

“My recommendation was very similar to what the board voted on,” he said. “The way I look at it is we have 5,000 students and staff that it is our responsibility to take care of, and I think we need to do absolutely everything we can to do that. I’d rather be someone who’s maybe going a little overboard on protection than not doing enough.”

— Caitlan Butler, El Dorado News Times

Springdale schools’ policy is for 30 days

The Springdale School District, the state’s largest with about 21,882 students, will be among public school districts that will have a mask requirement.

The School Board on Tuesday approved a 30-day policy requiring masks for kindergarten-through-seventh-grade pupils indoors and on buses. The board voted 6-0 in support of the policy, with one board member absent.

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Masks are optional for kindergarten-12 teachers and students in grades eight-12, according to administrators.

— Mary Jordan, NWA Democrat-Gazette

Pulaski Tech issues order to cover up

The University of Arkansas-Pulaski Technical College announced Wednesday that it will require all students, employees and visitors in all indoor campus settings to wear masks.

This includes classrooms, labs, performance spaces, common areas, shared spaces of all buildings and other indoor places where people congregate, said Chancellor Margaret Ellibee. Private offices are excluded.

The requirement begins today.

Pulaski Tech in North Little Rock is the state’s second-largest community college, with about 4,810 students in fall 2020, according to the state Division of Higher Education.

— Democrat-Gazette staff

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