On Monday night, the Beebe School Board voted down a motion made by member Dr. Kathy Pillow Price to reinstate a mask mandate for the district.
"Our board may not always agree and I will always respect my fellow board members' opinions, but I think that's what's best for our district at the time," Pillow Price said in making the motion, which was seconded by board member Harold Davis. Board President Clay Goff and members Jason Smith and Janet Hines voted against the mandate.
"The motion did not pass; masks will not be back on by a 3-2 margin," Goff said. "But they will be optional," Smith said.
Beebe School Superintendent Chris Nail told the board, "As you all know the omicron [variant] in Arkansas is just hitting everywhere, in schools, too. We've seen a substantial uptick in student sickness and in quarantine and also staff sickness and quarantine.
"We're definitely trending upward; there's no way of getting around that. We do have enough staff that we can cover the buildings right now. That's what I worry about the most is if at some point are we going to have enough staff members to do a good job covering for our students."
Nail said students may get tested on campus through the school district's ARcare facility.