Pulaski County Special, North Little Rock school districts have high number of Covid-19 infections

Pulaski County Special and North Little Rock are among the 140 school districts in the state with Covid-19 infection rates of 50 or more per 10,000 residents.

The numbers were released by the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement and based on Arkansas Department of Health data gathered on Monday.

The data can be found by clicking here and school starts for both districts on Monday, Aug. 16.

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The ACHI said that it also believed that infections are underrepresented due to low testing rates.

Due to Act 1002, school districts are legally prohibited from putting in mask mandates in the schools but a bill was filed in the Arkansas House on Wednesday proposes to amend that ban and allow for local control with school boards deciding if masks are needed.

The amendment would give school districts with 14-day infection rates of 50 or more new known infections per 10,000 district residents. Dr. Joe Thompson, the president and CEO of ACHI,  said the bill would be preferable to legislative inaction.

“No school district should be legally barred from protecting Arkansas children from harm,” Thompson said Thursday. “However, politically, if a trigger is necessary to reverse the legislative ban, I believe it should be no higher than 30 new known infections per 10,000 residents over 14 days. If the Legislature takes no action and allows the ban on mask mandates to remain in effect in all schools while the Delta variant rages in our communities, children will be avoidably exposed to the virus, some will be hospitalized, and likely some will die.”

 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking, social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and ventilation in all U.S. schools.