Bentonville Schools Mask Mandate
Bentonville Schools Mask Mandate
The safety of Bentonville Schools' students, teachers, and staff must be the highest priority upon returning to school in August. To safeguard the physical and mental health of all and to mitigate the impact COVID-19 will have on the school year, Bentonville Schools should follow the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) recommendation and require the wearing of face masks when social distancing is not possible. Asa Hutchinson, governor of Arkansas, and State Secretary of Health, Dr. Nate Smith both support a school district’s right to require masks. Smith reinforced the importance of masks during the June 30th press conference: “Learning to wear a mask will be a survival skill for our children, at least in the near future.” Given this assertion, masks must be mandated in Bentonville schools.
According to the CDC, "cloth face coverings are a critical preventive measure and are most essential in times when social distancing is difficult." Social distancing is impossible at multiple points during the school day; therefore, it is logical to require all people on campus to wear masks when space is limited. Schools are built to encourage society and collaboration. It is physically impossible to socially distance students in classrooms, hallways, and common areas. Many businesses continue to shutter their doors. They allow their employees to work from home and hold meetings via digital platforms like Zoom because meeting in person is too dangerous. Why are schools held to a different standard? Why is it acceptable to endanger the health of students, faculty, and staff?
Masks help slow the “silent” spread of the virus by asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals. A recent study by the University of Padova and Imperial College London discovered that up to 40% of individuals are asymptomatic. A temperature check at the beginning of the school day is insufficient to stop the spread of the virus when these asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic individuals are taken into account. Only masks and vigorous testing will protect students, teachers, and staff. Additionally, there are immunosuppressed individuals on campus. Bentonville Schools must protect these individuals to the best of its ability by requiring face masks.
Much is unknown about the novel Coronavirus currently ravaging the country. But we do know masks help keep people safe which, in turn, slows the virus' spread. We want our schools to remain open. Disruption to education must be kept to a minimum. Our students want to be in the classroom. Our teachers want to engage with students face-to-face. To keep schools open and to keep the virus at bay, masks must be required.
Bentonville Schools' goal must be to protect our students, teachers, and staff. If the school population does not feel safe, learning will suffer. As Maslow’s hierarchy of needs illustrates, a school’s population must feel safe for individuals to excel. Masks, in conjunction with social distancing and vigorous sanitation protocols, help meet the need for safety we all need to thrive. When Bentonville Schools actively strives to put safety first, education will continue, and the stress of returning to school during a global pandemic will decrease. The physical and mental health of students, educators, and staff must be the district's top priority.
Excellence lives in Bentonville Schools: masks will ensure excellence continues to thrive.
Students, parents, teachers, staff and community members of Bentonville