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Arkansas district's virus quarantine grows as masks debated

by The Associated Press | August 5, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- The number of students and staff at an east Arkansas school district who have quarantined because of a coronavirus outbreak grew to more than 700 on Wednesday as lawmakers debated whether to allow schools to mandate masks.

Marion Superintendent Glen Fenter said 730 students and 10 staff members at his district have had to quarantine since classes began last week. Fenter said 34 students and nine staff have tested positive for the virus.

The 4,000-student district's quarantine grew as lawmakers debated a proposal to roll back the state's ban on mask mandates by schools and other government entities. Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who signed the ban in April, called lawmakers into session this week to roll it back for some public schools.

Fenter warned that his district's experience could be a harbinger of what the rest of Arkansas could face without action.

"If those circumstances are replicated all across the state after two weeks of school, our state's going to be in full blown crisis," he said.

The sponsor of a proposal that would allow some school boards to mandate masks said she planned to rework her proposal after about three hours of debate for a House committee.

Print Headline: Arkansas district's virus quarantine grows as masks debated

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