Mask mandate ends in state but reminds unsure in schools

Gradually lifting COVID-19 restrictions, including larger capacity limits, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchison is planning to lift the state-wide mask mandate on March 31, 2021. The state is preparing for this to take place as long as the states’ positivity rate is below 10% and hospitalizations are below 750 patients.

Many are concerned about what this means for schools all around the state, specifically for Har-Ber. Principal Paul Griep states all that he knows about the matter.

“Changes from the current practice would take school board action,” Griep said. “I would expect our board to discuss this topic if the Governor lifts the mandate.”

There are different opinions around the school for whether the district should still require masks or let them be optional. However, this decision is not in the hands of the public rather in the school board.

“I feel if the governor lifts the mandate we should have the freedom to not wear them, I assume he has been advised it is safe to do so if he lifts the mandate,” Coach Robert Day said. “People should be allowed to wear them if they choose.”

Day trusts the governor to make the smart decision since we voted him into office. He believes there will be some disagreement between coworkers, though.

“Some are more concerned than others, I think their reaction will be the same as students,” said Day. “Most of us have been vaccinated which could impact wearing the mask.”

Teacher Leslie Purdy, along with Day, has her own opinion on the matter.

“It’s maddening to hear, ‘masks don’t stop the virus,’” said Purdy. “They are not meant to keep you from getting the virus, they help keep you from spreading diseases to others.”

Purdy hopes that the school board makes the right decision for the safety of everyone.

“It [the pandemic] is better, but not over,” said Purdy. “We work in an enclosed, non-ventilated space where spacing out is next to impossible. Masks are important to continue to slow the spread of the virus. It would be prudent to continue wearing masks at least until the end of the school year.”

The school board has still not made a final decision regarding masks in schools, but many trust that they will have good judgment based off the circumstances.

“Sounds like they [the school board] are getting everyones opinions and taking those in account which is good,” said Day.