County School Districts respond to end of mask mandate

Ty Thompson
Press Argus-Courier
Van Buren students wearing masks and gardening at their school. Van Buren will extend their mask police following the end of the statewide mask mandate.

Alma, Mountainburg, and Cedarville schools lift mask mandate

Alma School District will no longer require masks for students, staff, or visitors. The school will continue to follow all other safety and sanitation recommendations from the Department of health such as social distancing, encouraging hand washing, and spraying and disinfecting all facilities daily.

Mountainburg and Cedarville Schools will also not be requiring masks moving forward.

In a press conference on March 30, Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced that the state-wide mask mandate has been lifted. Schools in the county have made the decision on whether or not they continue their mask policies.

Van Buren Schools extend mask mandate

Van Buren School District has decided to extend its mask policy for the foreseeable future. The school district will be following guidance from the Arkansas Department of Health and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

As stated in governor Hutchinson's press conference on Tuesday, school districts choosing to keep mask policies in place will no longer be required to quarantine students and staff who are considered close contacts. To date, VBSD has quarantined 1,925 students, many of whom were required to miss out on in-person learning for 14 days.

"We don’t know for how long and at this point," Van Buren Superintendent Harold Jeffcoat said. "We plan to seek feedback from our parents and employees and revisit the policy in the near future."

VBSD will continue to implement proper social distancing measures and enhanced sanitizing procedures on campus, as well.

"As always, the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority and we appreciate everyone's continued cooperation. We encourage all families to remain diligent in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19," a press release from the school said.

County Court will wear masks

County Judge Dennis Gilstrap said in a release on March 31, that the wearing of masks will be strongly encouraged in county buildings. According to Gilstrap, employees who received the vaccine are to be fully vaccinated by April 26. His plan is to continue these restrictions until that date, and based on the number of new cases, he will decide to continue with his plan or extend the encouragement of masks.

As of March 31, there have been 5,654 cumulative COVID-19 cases in the county. The county has seen 97 deaths due to the virus, and currently, there are 35 active cases.