FAYETTEVILLE -- There's no mandate for schoolchildren to get covid vaccines, there won't be in Arkansas and concerns there will be are based on misinterpreting what the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did in a recent decision, Gov. Asa Hutchinson told the Northwest Arkansas Political Animals Club on Friday.
"The Twitter-verse went crazy," Hutchinson said after an advisory committee to the CDC recommended covid vaccines be added to the immunizations required for schools.
The advisory recommendation isn't binding, Hutchinson said. States decide what immunizations are required.
The governor already talked to state Department of Health advisers about vaccinating youngsters, he said.
"We have not had enough experience with them yet" to impose them on young, growing children, he said of the newly developed vaccines.
"It's not going to happen," Hutchinson said of requiring covid immunization to attend public school. "These are decisions parents should make."
In other topics, Hutchinson said he'll announce his future political plans after the first of the year. He made that statement in response to a question from the audience about whether he had presidential aspirations. He spoke to the crowd of about 100 at a lunch meeting of the club.
The governor also announced the number of students enrolled this year in computer science classes is up to 23,000 -- almost twice the 12,500 from last year and compared with 1,100 in 2015, the first year state law required every school district to offer the classes. Hutchinson signed a law in 2021 making such courses a requirement for high school graduation. The number of certified teachers in the subject also went up from 650 last year to 800, he said.
The Nov. 8 general election ballot includes a proposed constitutional amendment allowing the state Legislature to call itself into session, a power currently held only by the governor. Hutchinson will vote against the issue, he said. Passage would swing the balance in the separation of powers too far, in part because the governor's veto can be overturned by a simple majority under the current constitution and there's nothing in the proposed amendment to change that.
April Legere is a Rogers City Council member who is a self-described Democrat. She attended Friday's meeting and praised Hutchinson for coming to a bipartisan event like the Political Animals Club.
"Gov. Hutchinson is one of the most balanced leaders that we've had in this state," she said. "He has an opinion, but listens to others, and that leads to creative results."