Brian Chilson

With less than a week before the start of school, school boards and charter school systems around the state have begun to make decisions on how to respond to a Pulaski County judge temporarily blocking the state law that prohibits public mask mandates.

Governor Hutchinson, who convened the state legislature in a thoroughly unsuccessful attempt to amend the mask law, applauded the judge’s decision. Should Attorney General Leslie Rutledge appeal the ruling to the Arkansas Supreme Court, Hutchinson said he would retain separate counsel to argue against the law. But the governor also said he wouldn’t use his executive authority to impose mask requirements for some or all public school children.

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So predictably, we’re seeing a patchwork of mask polices from school districts around the state. Every county in Arkansas is seeing high community spread, according to the CDC. So school boards not implementing mask requirements are basing their decisions on politics, not science or public health recommendations.

Tom Mars, the attorney who represented the parents in the lawsuit challenging the public mask ban, called out on Twitter school districts that say they’re waiting for the Arkansas Supreme Court to rule before making a mask decision. An appeal may not be filed until the court holds a full hearing, or it may not be filed at all, Mars points out.

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At this point at least, neither the state Department of Education or the Department of Health are keeping track of mask policies.

Here’s our attempt. This post will be regularly updated. Send additions with sources to arktimes@arktimes.com with the headline SCHOOL MASKS.

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UPDATED Aug. 12:

Requiring masks

Arkadelphia

Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences, and the Arts

Batesville

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Bentonville

Bryant

Camden Fairview

Conway

East End (Bigelow, aka Jason Rapert’s home turf)

El Dorado (home of Trent Garner)

England

eSTEM

Eureka Springs

Farmington

Fayetteville 

Fort Smith

Greene County Tech

Haas Hall (Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville)

Hope

Hot Springs

Jonesboro

Lake Hamilton

LISA Academy

Little Rock School District (the school board won’t formally approve the mandate until Thursday, but as it filed a lawsuit to block the mask ban law, I think it’s safe to call it.)

Magnolia

Marion

Mountain View

North Little Rock

Osceola

Palestine-Wheatley

Prairie Grove

Pulaski County

Russellville

Searcy

South Conway (Morrilton)

Stuttgart

Valley View

Warren

West Memphis

White Hall

Trying to thread the needle

Watson Chapel (The school board gave the superintendent the authority to impose a mask requirement, but he’s said initially the district is setting an expectation that students wear masks.)

Springdale: All students, K-7, will be required to wear masks. For all staff and other students, masks are optional.

Not requiring

Benton: Masks are optional. Every classroom will have an air purifier.

Greenbrier

Hamburg

Sheridan

Southside (Batesville area*)

West Fork

*A previous version of this post mistakenly identified the Southside School District as in Fort Smith.