The Arkansas Education Association is unabatedly concerned with the health, safety and welfare of our state’s students and educators as we approach another semester of school under virulent conditions.
While in-person instruction is best for our students, it must be done safely. As record numbers of new infections hit our state, we must follow health expert guidance to make sure our students and educators are as safe as possible in their learning and working environment.
The Arkansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatricians is calling on schools and child care facilities to return to masking requirements for staff and students to help keep buildings open. Vaccines are also an important tool to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in any of its forms, but that does not negate the need to continue health and safety protocols including masks and social distancing.
Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s ruling on Act 1002 as unconstitutional allows local school districts the authority to make decisions in the best interest of the community. Data shared by Dr. Jose Romero, Arkansas Secretary of Health, showed school districts where students and staff wore masks had 20% fewer cases of COVID-19 than schools with no mask requirements. It is vital that school boards consider and follow the expert medical advice of our health professionals given the situation on the ground.
Educators are leaving their positions as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on their students, themselves, and their families. Districts cannot continue to ignore the rapidly changing learning and working conditions that must be addressed to maintain safe and healthy classrooms, buildings and school buses.
The Arkansas Education Association is a professional organization for teachers, education support professionals, students and advocates. Our fundamental objective is to work for quality and equitable public education for all of Arkansas students, the betterment of the Arkansas state education system and quality working conditions for educators.