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Most school districts opting between wearing masks or going virtual

Most school districts opting between wearing masks or going virtual


WHITE COUNTY— Although some school districts in haven’t decided yet what their ultimatum is going to be if students refuse to wear masks when school returns Aug. 24, the ones who have agree that “students are going to have to conform.”

When the Beebe School Board discussed its plans for returning to classes a couple of weeks ago, it included that those who refuse to wear masks will be switched to virtual learning. Although the district has changed its policy concerning mask styles, Superintendent Dr. Chris Nail said forcing students whose parents won’t make them wear masks to go online is still in the plans.

“Unless the governor changes his mandate, we have no choice on that,” Nail said.

In the Searcy School District, information provided by School/Community Coordinator Betsy Bailey states that “students who refuse to wear a mask or face covering at school or at a school function under this policy shall be required to leave the school campus consistent with Board Policy 4.19 on student conduct while riding a bus.”

“Students may remove masks and face coverings on a case-by-case basis for specific instructional needs and other activities, as determined by a teacher, in which case the teacher will utilize appropriate social distancing measures or students may be exempted from this policy due to special behavioral or individualized needs as determined by the Director of Special Services or the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction,” the policy states.

White County Central Superintendent Dean Stanley said his district will use “verbal reminders [when a student refuses to wear a mask] but if it becomes a recurring problem with a student for noncompliance then we will have them go virtual.”

Pangburn Superintendent David Rolland said “with the mandate, you have to wear a mask when social distancing is not possible.

We will warn students but eventually they will have to conform to that [wearing a mask]. We have a virtual option as well that they can do. They are going to have to conform.”

Bald Knob, Riverview and Rose Bud have yet to determine if students will have to go to virtual learning if they refuse to wear masks.

Bald Knob School Superintendent Melissa Gipson said she doesn’t have a firm answer yet but will provide information concerning mask enforcement when the district has it ready to announce.

Riverview School Superintendent Stan Stratton said if a student continually refuses to wear a mask, the district will have a conference with the student’s parents, but the district has not made a decision about what the district would do next if the problem persists.

Rose Bud School District Superintendent Allen Blackwell said Rose Bud’s plans are to “highly recommend that we follow the Department of Health guidelines.”

“We are not planning on it becoming a discipline issue,” Blackwell said. “If a student absolutely refuses – at this particular time our teachers and staff are going to be asked to recommend students to wear if they cannot be socially distant – if they just are going to refuse then we are going to put them in a position where they just aren’t going to be close to others.

The principals and I feel that we can keep this from becoming a discipline issue. We have not made the decision to threaten them to put them in virtual school.”

The Beebe School District already has had some issues with COVID-19, with a second student-athlete having tested positive

Continued on Page 11 STATE NEWS (cont.)

last Thursday.

“Mr. Chris Ellis, our point of contact, has called the Department of Health and what we’ve done is, we’ve canceled all athletics until Wednesday to give us time to go in and deep clean all athletic facilities to make sure they are safe and we will resume athletics on Monday,” Nail said.

Asked if anyone else who may have been in contact with the athlete would have to quarantine, Nail said, “I believe there is some but I can’t release how many that is; we have some.”

Earlier this month the district reported another athlete testing positive for COVID-19. All facilities and equipment were sanitized after that report, according to Nail.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced Friday his intentions for high school football, volleyball and cheerleading to be held this fall, with teams being allowed to hold nocontact drills in helmets Monday-Friday. It is possible that contact drills will be allowed beginning Aug.

10, but an advisory board is being established to determine that and make recommendations about fall sports.

While Beebe is trying to get a handle on having two of its student-athletes test positive for COVID-19 before those team drills began, the district also had to handle some backlash it received for initially determining that students would have to wear masks with “no writing on them,” other than Beebe Badgers.

“We really thought we were helping parents by providing the masks for the kids, but I guess a lot of them already purchased them,” Nail said. “We were just trying to take the burden off of them. Obviously, we were wrong. We got some good feedback, which is great.

“We’re glad that everyone seems to be happy about the masks now. As long as they meet dress code, like a T-shirt, they will be fine. If a child wanted to monogram their initials on their mask, hat would be fine as well.”


LITTLE ROCK — With many areas in Arkansas experiencing the hottest temperatures of the year, AAA reminds drivers that summer’s extreme heat can push a vehicle past its limits, and that can lead to many drivers finding themselves stranded at the roadside. Last summer, AAA came to the rescue of more than 17,000 motorists in the Natural State. With 97 percent of all trips being taken by car this summer, AAA advises drivers to keep summer travel on track by having a vehicle thoroughly inspected before embarking on a road trip.

“The extreme heat we experience during summer can cause significant damage to a vehicle over time, which leads to thousands of stranded drivers each year on Arkansas roadways,” said Nick Chabarria, AAA spokesperson. “A professional and thorough vehicle inspection can help reduce the chance of a serious breakdown.”

The top three types of vehicle issues that could derail a summer road trip are dead batteries, engine trouble and flat tires. AAA advises drivers to make a good B-E-T to stay on the road by having a vehicle’s Battery, Engine and Tires checked before embarking on a summer excursion.

Long trips coupled with hot weather places additional strain on vehicles and in some cases may accelerate a dormant issue. When these key systems are in good working order, AAA data shows the odds of encountering a serious breakdown are greatly reduced.

AAA summer vehicle

Continued on Page 15 STATE NEWS (cont.)

• Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies, leading to internal breakdown and eventual failure.

• Make sure your battery is securely mounted to minimize vibration.

• Clean any corrosive buildup from battery terminals and cable clamps, as heat can cause faster evaporation of battery fluid, which leads to corrosion.

• Ensure clamps are tight enough that they will not move.

• If a battery is more than three years old, it’s a good idea to have it tested by a trained technician to determine

• Cooling systems protect engines from overheating and should be flushed periodically, as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer.

• Between flushes, make sure the coolant is filled to the proper level by checking the overflow reservoir.

• If necessary, top off the reservoir with a 50/50 mix of water and the coolant type specified by the vehicle manufacturer.

• CAUTION — Never remove the radiator cap when the engine is hot.

Boiling coolant under pressure could cause serious burns.

• Rubber cooling system components are susceptible to heat-related deterioration,

hoses and drive belts for cracking, soft spots or other signs of poor condition.

Just as driving on underinflated tires is dangerous, over-inflated tires can cause uneven wear, reduce vehicle handling and make tires susceptible to road hazard damage.

• Check tire pressure often as tires lose pressure naturally (typically 1-3 psi per month) because a tire’s sidewall is permeable.

• Low tire pressure results in poor handling and braking, reduced gas mileage and excessive wear. So be sure to check your car’s tire pressure at least once a month — especially before a long trip.

• Check the tread depth. A tire’s ability to stop within a safe distance becomes compromised when its tread depth reaches 4/32 inch. An easy way to determine if a tire is worn out is to place an upside-down quarter (not a penny) in a tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, it’s time to replace the tire.

• Know the tire’s age. As a tire ages, its rubber becomes hard and brittle, losing elasticity and strength. Therefore, the older a tire, the higher the risk for failure. The age of your tire can be found by checking the last four DOT numbers stamped on a tire’s sidewall; for example, 0419 means the tire was manufactured in the fourth week of 2019. AAA recommends replacing any tire that’s six years old or older.

For more tire safety tips, drivers can visit Even with preventive maintenance, summer breakdowns can still occur, so AAA recommends drivers have a well-stocked emergency kit in their cars. The kit should include water, non-perishable food items, jumper cables, a flashlight with extra batteries, road flares or an emergency beacon, basic hand tools and a first aid kit.

Many maintenance tasks needed to prepare a car for extreme summer heat are relatively simple and can be performed by the average driver, but some are best left to a trained automotive technician. AAA offers a free public service to assist motorists seeking a qualified auto repair facility. AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities must meet stringent professional standards and maintain an ongoing customer satisfaction rating of 90 percent or better. To locate a AAA approved repair shop, visit

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