Schools drop mask requirements

Both the Pulaski County Special School District and the Academics Plus Charter system voted this week to drop mask mandates across their respective campuses.

The School Board for the county district voted 4-3 on Tuesday night at a special call meeting held before its regular monthly meeting.

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Masks are now, “optional effective immediately,” the district said in a short statement posted to its Twitter account. The board had previously voted to keep mask wearing going through the first part of December and had originally planned to take up the mandate at its regularly scheduled meeting that month.

At Academics Plus, the system that includes Maumelle Charter and Scott Charter schools, its board of trustees voted to drop the mask mandate and that it was made effective on Wednesday,

The school system said students and adults on campus “are strongly encouraged to wear facial

coverings, but they are not required.”

The trustees also voted that if the positive case count reaches 10 or more at its Maumelle campuses, masks would be immediately required, while the number was five at Scott Charter Elementary School.

In a letter to parents and stakeholders, Rob McGill, the chief executive officer of the system, said that the schools were participating “in the Arkansas Department of Health approved Test-to-Stay program” and that with vaccinations now available for those 5 to 11, masks became less necessary.

The test-to-stay program, McGill said, “allows students and staff who have been

identified as a probable close contact at school to agree to daily COVID-19 testing during the time of their quarantine. The exposed person must be asymptomatic, have negative tests and agree to wear a facial covering during the prescribed quarantine time. If these measures are met the person can remain in school during the quarantine time frame.”

He added that the school nurse on each campus would administer the program.