“Looking back, I wish it hadn’t become law,” Hutchinson said during a news conference. “But this is the law, the only chance for us is to amend it or the courts will say it has an unconstitutional basis.”
The ban allows state and local authorities and agencies to recommend the use of the mask, but they must “give notice that the recommendation is not mandatory”.
Now, however, Hutchinson has asked state legislators to amend the ban so that masks are likely to be mandatory if school districts choose. The delta variant “has affected a high proportion of school-age children and is more contagious than previous types of the virus,” he wrote in a statement calling for a special session of the state legislature.
“As public school boards have the flexibility to use masks to prevent the spread of COV-19 in schools, there is a need to make exceptions to Act 201 1002,” the statement said.
The state assembly adjourned Wednesday without amending the order, but reconvenes Thursday morning.
“We are seeing a real upsurge in delta diversity that we have not seen before,” Dr Rick Barr, chief medical officer at Arkansas Children’s Hospital, told CNN last month. “This is the worst thing we ‘ve ever seen for kids.”
CNN’s Hannah Sarison and Devan Cole contributed to the report.
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