HOPE – Acting to comply with the law in Arkansas, as affected by an Aug. 6 circuit court ruling in Little Rock, the Hope Public Schools Board of Education unanimously adopted a resolution in a called session Monday, Aug. 9, to authorize HPS Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Crossley to “implement common-sense public health precautions” in the Hope Public Schools, including the wearing of face masks or other appropriate face coverings in response to the COVID-19 virus.
Classes for the 2021-2022 academic year begin Aug. 16 and Open House activities are set for HPS campuses on Aug. 10 or Aug. 12.
The resolution gives Dr. Crossley the authority to implement or rescind all such precautions on HPS properties, buses, or vehicles, such as the wearing of face masks as applicable under the interpretations of Act 1002 and the Arkansas Constitution as defined in a preliminary injunction issued by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox.
“The reason the resolution is so broad, we are in a state right now where there could be changes,” Crossley said. “We are literally going to follow the law. As the law may change, you are authorizing me to abide by the law.”
Under the resolution, Crossley will also be responsible for the continued encouragement throughout the HPS “to strongly recommend that all of our students, their families, and our employees get vaccinated and follow all CDC guidelines regarding wearing a mask in order to protect themselves and others, without regard to the final outcome of all litigation regarding Act 1002.”
Act 1002 was declared unconstitutional by Judge Fox in that it “discriminates, without a rational basis, between minors in public schools and minors in private schools,” according to the resolution.
Crossley told the board the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., continues to recommend all individuals older than the age of 2 years wear face masks or coverings indoors in areas experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks, regardless of vaccination status.
Board President Linda Haynes asked whether any guidance has been made available which would determine an expiration date or rate of vaccination that would automatically conclude the provisions of the resolution.
Crossley said nothing has been provided through the CDC or other agencies at this point, but recommended monthly updates be added to the agenda for each regular board meeting. He said almost 55 percent of all HPS employees have been vaccinated.
Public vaccine clinics are being offered free this week through partnerships between the HPS, Express Rx Pharmacy, and Cabun Rural Health on Aug. 10 at the Hope High School MAC building from 8 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. and the HHS cafeteria from 4-6 p.m. On Aug. 12 it will be at the Yerger Middle School cafeteria from 3-4:30 p.m. and the Hope Academy of Public Service Nurse’s Station from 5:30-6:30 p.m.
The HPS is also promoting a vaccination clinic sponsored by Farmers Bank and Trust at The Hub in downtown Hope on Aug. 10 from 5-7 p.m.