Marion School District implements masks mandate for students and staff

MARION, Ark. — Students and staff at the Marion School District will now have to wear masks.

School board members voted unanimously for a mask mandate that begins Wednesday.

RELATED: More than 900 students and staff quarantined in Marion School District

The new policy is in place after 1,194 students were forced to quarantine during the first two weeks that classes were in session.

The district said the new mandate will accomplish two things: protect students and staff and reduce the number of students missing classes because of quarantine.

Marion School District is able to implement the mask mandate after the district, Little Rock schools and two parents sued the state of Arkansas over banning masks in public schools.

RELATED: Arkansas judge blocks state from enforcing mask mandate ban

The district said if masks were allowed to be worn from the beginning, the number of students in quarantine would have decreased to 83.

“We have said since day one that the safety and wellness of our students is our top priority,” said Dr. Glen Fenter, superintendent. “With the alarming rise of local cases, particularly in regard to the Delta variant, it was imperative for us to take action to protect our students. The proper wearing of facemasks is a proven way to stop the spread of Covid. And masks work best if everybody is wearing them – they don’t work if only a few people have them on.”

Anyone who does not wear a mask could face disciplinary action.

The district is still encouraging everyone to get vaccinated and will host a vaccination clinic Thursday.

Marion School District joins Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Watson Chapel, West Memphis, and KIPP Delta in requiring face masks in Arkansas schools.

Students in West Memphis head back to school Aug. 16.