#childsafety | Education association calls on districts to follow experts’ advice

The Arkansas Education Association on Monday urged school districts to conduct in-person instruction safely by following health experts’ advice, citing recommendations to wear masks and practice social distancing.

“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 AEA said in a news release.

“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,” the release said.

The AEA cited Circuit Judge Tim Fox’s ruling on Act 1002 as unconstitutional, which it said “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,” the release said.

“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,” it said.

As a service to our readers, The Sentinel-Record publishes updates released by the city of Hot Springs and the state of Arkansas.

The Arkansas Department of Health is no longer reporting confirmed and probable cases separately. The following stats were posted Monday on the Health Department’s website:

• 574,572 cumulative cases, up 12,043 from Thursday.

• 4,455,310 PCR test reports, up 39,301 from Thursday.

• 9.4% cumulative PCR infection rate, up 0.1 from Thursday.

• 27,162 active cases, up 8,518 from Thursday.

• 4,235 active juvenile cases, up 1,375 from Thursday.

• 574,572 recoveries, up 3,418 from Thursday.

• 4,442,890 vaccine doses received, up 6,710 from Thursday.

• 3,713,854 doses given, up 19,240 from Thursday.

• 722 hospitalizations, up 137 from Thursday.

• 115 cases on ventilators, up 11 from Thursday.

• 246 ICU patients, up 46 from Thursday.

• 9,221 deaths, up 90 from Thursday.

• 2,303 nursing home deaths, up eight from Thursday.

• 16,886 cumulative cases in Garland County, up 166 from Thursday.

• 172,871 PCR and antigen test reports, up 997 from Thursday.

• 10.16% cumulative PCR infection rate, up 0.04 from Thursday.

• 328 active cases in Garland County, up 91 from Thursday.

• 16,128 recoveries in Garland County, up 66 from Thursday.

• 430 deaths, up nine from Thursday.

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