Citing greatly reduced numbers of persons quarantined from school, school superintendent Keith Martin expected to ask for a continuation of the mask mandate at the regularly-scheduled School Board meeting Monday, Sept. 13.
Board members voted 3-1 to impose a mask mandate at a special School Board meeting Sept. 1, much to the chagrin of more than 25 parents of students present. One lady, while exiting the meeting, said all parents should pull their children out of school.
Two parents picketed the school administration building Friday, Sept. 10, with signs stating "Our children; Our choice."
Martin said: "We had very few people show up refusing to wear a mask. We worked with their parents and worked through situations. If they refused to wear mask, they had to go home."
"That's the great thing about Pea Ridge, everybody, for the most part has been really polite to our faculty and staff," Martin said when asked about the response to the mandate. He said numbers reflect a decrease in positive cases and in quarantines.
On Sept. 1, there were 37 positive cases with six staff members quarantined. He said 182 students were quarantined from school contacts and 50 were quarantined from outside sources. The positives cases increased to 41 on Sept. 2, and varied from 26 on Sept. 10 to 40 on Sept. 5.
"The positives are pretty constant," Martin said. "Where we have seen a tremendous decline in numbers is in the number of students quarantined from contacts here at school."
Martin said those numbers were 182 on Sept. 1, 173 on Sept. 2, 148 on Sept. 3, 161 on Sept. 4, 148 on Sept. 5, 140 on Sept. 6, 83 on Sept. 7 and 8, 84 on Sept. 9 and 55 on Sept. 10.
"We have people coming off quarantine and now, we're not sending kids home because both parties are wearing a mask," Martin said.
"It's not based off a political agenda. I feel like it's my responsibility to keep kids here and this is how we can keep kids here," Martin said, adding that he realizes there are upset parents and community members, but he's also received messages from people thanking him for the stance. "It's just a bad spot we're in in society."
Martin planned to allow five persons from both view points regarding masks to speak at the Monday School Board meeting before making his recommendation. Persons speaking must either reside within the district boundaries or have a child attending Pea Ridge schools. The meeting was held after press time for The TIMES. Information about the meeting and the board's actions will be published in the Sept. 22 edition of The TIMES.