Arkansas governor seeks to lift ban on school mask mandates
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ Republican governor is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to lift the state’s ban on mask requirements in public schools.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Thursday said he’ll call the majority-Republican Legislature into session likely next week to amend a state law that prohibits state and local government entities from requiring face masks. Hutchinson said he’ll propose giving local school boards the power to decide whether to require masks in K-12 schools.
“This is not a debate about mask mandates for those that can make their own decisions and have the means to get vaccinated,” Hutchinson said a news conference at the state Capitol. “This is a discussion about the school environment where schools can make decisions about the public health for their school environment and the children they have responsibility to protect.”
Arkansas’ coronavirus cases have skyrocketed in recent weeks because of the delta variant and the state’s low vaccination rate. Hutchinson also reinstated an emergency declaration because of the virus, two months after he lifted the declaration he issued at the state of the pandemic last year. The state reported more than 2,800 new cases on Thursday.
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