Schools sue and mayor defies Arkansas mask mandate ban

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — The Marion School District is suing the state of Arkansas over its ban on mask mandates.

This comes after more than 800 students and staff are now in quarantine due to a COVID outbreak.

On Thursday, Arkansas lawmakers rejected two proposals that would allow school boards to require masks in the classroom.

Marion School District Superintendent Dr. Glen Fenter said the district is joining the Little Rock School District in suing Arkansas over its mask mandate ban.

“We think that lawsuit not only has significant merit in what it can do in the short term, but it certainly has the potential to keep the conversations going regarding masks and other issues that our schools are facing,” he said.

Fenter said he’s concerned other Arkansas school districts will end up in similar situations as they start back.

“I am confident short of some divine intervention in three or four weeks our state is going to see a different climate and the general assembly may very well have to reconvene,” he said.

But his fight isn’t over. That’s why he said the district is taking legal action against the state.

It’s a decision many parents say they stand behind.

“I think it says something for our district,” Tawana Bailey, a mother of two children in the district said. “I think Dr. Fenter is saying, ‘Hey I am putting our kids first. Whatever I must do to make it happen those are the measures I am taking.’”

Governor Asa Hutchinson took to Twitter to express his concerns with the decision to block the two bills.

He said “The cases and quarantines at the Marion School District illustrate the urgency of action. If we are going to have a successful school year, then the local districts need to have the flexibility to protect those at risk.”

You can read his full statement here.