A proposed resolution calling for state lawmakers to allow local decision-making in regard to requiring students and staff to wear face masks will be the subject of a special meeting of the Little Rock School Board at 5:30 p.m. today.
The special meeting comes just ahead of Act 1002 going into effect on Wednesday. The act, passed earlier this year by legislators and signed by the governor, prohibits government agencies -- including public school systems -- from mandating that face masks be worn as a condition for entry, education or services.
Mask-wearing mandates in schools and other public places were required for several months prior to March 30 this year and have been a common practice since then in an effort to slow the spread of the covid-19 virus.
The new law -- passed when new covid-19 cases were declining -- goes into effect at a time when covid-19 virus cases have been increasing.
School District leaders announced the special meeting at about 6 p.m. Sunday, a day in which another 1,022 new cases of covid-19 were reported. There were more than 2,000 new cases reported Saturday and more than 1,900 on Friday.
"This Resolution supports an approach that would allow a local school board to determine what is best for its community regarding face coverings," says an executive summary submitted by Superintendent Mike Poore and attached to the School Board agenda.
"Local communities are best suited to understand what their stakeholders seek, have dialog with the medical community in their own region, and finally best understand numbers of students and staff who are vaccinated," the executive summary stated.
The actual resolution was not part of the agenda but the executive summary says the proposal will be shared with the School Board in advance of the evening meeting.
"If the resolution is approved, it will allow the superintendent and/or the Board to speak on behalf of the resolution in a public manner," the summary states.
"This sends a clear message to the State Legislature that local authorities are best suited to determine how and when to use masks. There certainly will be different reactions from different parts of the State," the summary also says.
About a half dozen members of the public, in letters and comments at the Little Rock School Board meeting last Thursday, urged that students and staff be required to wear face masks when school starts for students on Aug. 16.
Tonight's meeting will also include a public comment period.
Those who want to comment are directed by the district to use this form: https://lrsd.jotform.com/203496938448067.
Deadline for online submissions is 1 p.m. today.
The district"s meetings are broadcast on its YouTube page: www.lrsdlive.com.
The district also streams meetings on LRSDTV.org, and broadcasts them on Comcast Channel 4 and U-verse Channel 99.