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Masks optional at Jacksonville district

by Cynthia Howell | June 8, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.

The wearing of face coverings for preventing the spread of covid-19 are optional in the Jacksonville/North Pulaski School District, the School Board decided Monday night.

The district had required wearing of masks on district properties throughout the just-ended 2020-21 school year -- even after Gov. Asa Hutchinson lifted a statewide mask mandate on March 30.

Jacksonville/North Pulaski School Board member Jim Moore proposed the revision in the district's position at the board's regular monthly meeting.

Superintendent Bryan Duffie didn't object to the revision, noting that the mask-wearing requirement is about to be eliminated by state law. The district -- as a governmental agency -- will no longer be able to mandate mask-wearing after July 29 because of a law passed earlier this year by state lawmakers.

The board voted unanimously in favor of the policy change at a meeting in which:

• Board member Daniel Gray was re-elected president of the seven-member board.

• Board members learned that the new Jacksonville Middle School will be ready for occupancy no later than Aug. 6 but possibly as soon as July 8. The new Jacksonville Elementary School is on track to be ready for occupancy by Oct. 14.

• Board members acknowledged with the presentation of plaques the departure at the end of this month of Duffie, who is going to work in the Alma School District, and Assistant Superintendent Tiffany Bone, who is going to work in the Fort Smith School District.

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