Following a public health emergency declaration and a lawsuit, the Arkansas Legislature reconvened this week to address federal unemployment dollars and protecting kids in schools from COVID19. On Wednesday, August 4, the House Public Health Committee met and spoke at great lengths about HB1003. The bill in question would allow school districts and school boards to require masks under certain circumstances. Under a new Arkansas law passed this spring, public institutions like schools cannot require masks.
- Kids 12 and under must be enrolled (it is our understanding that districts with separate high schools qualify per bus guidelines).
- The district must have a 14-day infection rate of at least 50 new cases per 10,000 residents of the district.
- Limits the mandates to 60 days (allows for renewal).
Mary Had a Little… Misinformation
While speaking against HB1003, Rep. Mary Bentley made many false statements. For example, she said natural immunization is better than vaccination, and she told doctors to do more research. She also claimed AR kids aren’t smart enough to know how to wear a mask properly. In Bentley’s mind, protecting kids with mask mandates is a waste of time. We know this isn’t true, so we asked you to share pictures of your little ones rocking their masks. Y’all delivered.
If Kids Can Wear Their Masks, So Can You
So there you have it, straight from the masked mouths of Arkansans. Our kids know that by wearing a mask they are protecting their loved ones. It’s shocking that people under 12 have a better understanding of and respect for science than our elected lawmakers.
For now, keep posting your pictures, and keep making noise. AR kids need us, especially since our leaders aren’t doing what they can to #SaveARKids. Remember, even if our lawmakers don’t come together to change Act 1002 during the special session, Tom Mars has filed a lawsuit, so there is a chance that the courts will overturn this harmful law.
August 16 Update: Back to School
Kids and parents across the state woke up early on August 16th to get ready for the first day of school. It’s the first time back in a classroom in over a year. Although students are ready to go back to in-person learning, the surge of COVID cases has many parents concerned for their kids, especially those 12 and under who can’t get vaccinated. After the legislature failed to #saveARkids, the courts ruled that Act 1oo2 could not be enforced as of right now. After this decision was made, 61 school districts voted to implement mask mandates.
We asked Arkansans if their child’s school was requiring masks; these are their responses: