Aug 3, 2021 - COVID

Fayetteville might fight state on mask mandate ban

Illustration of a mask with an animated "no smoking" symbol over it, with the crossbar extending to different lengths, but never getting all the way across.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The Fayetteville City Council will vote Tuesday night on a resolution to support and possibly join litigation to block Act 1002, which prohibits public entities, including schools, from requiring masks.

What's happening: Per Gov. Asa Hutchinson's request, the legislature will convene tomorrow for a special session and consider repealing or amending Act 1002.

  • The council's resolution authorizes the city to join any litigation attempting to block Act 1002 and take legal action.

Why it matters: Hutchinson and others urging the legislature to act say it's especially important to at least allow individual school districts to require masks because kids under 12 cannot get vaccinated.

  • Also, Arkansas is in another public health emergency with cases and hospitalizations surging because of the Delta variant and the state's low vaccination rate.

Context: The council vote comes on the heels of Little Rock schools superintendent Michael Poore asking the school board to sue the state. And Rogers attorney Tom Mars has said he will sue on behalf of parents of K-12 students.

  • The University of Arkansas Education Association/Local 965 union has asked university leaders to join the Mars lawsuit — or at least file a court document in support of it.

What they're saying: Superintendent Poore noted in a video released last week that he hoped state lawmakers would pass a change in the law, allowing schools to make their own decisions on masks, but said he was "not confident that that will occur."

Of note: Danyelle McNeill, the spokesperson for the Arkansas Department of Health, tells Axios that 31.3% of Arkansans ages 12–18 are partially vaccinated and another 18.1% are fully vaccinated.

  • About 41% of all Arkansans 12 and older are fully vaccinated and another 12% are partially vaccinated.

Attend the meeting: 5:30pm Tuesday at City Hall or register here to watch online.


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