San Francisco Chronicle

Governor seeks to lift mask ban


Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson is calling lawmakers back to the Capitol to lift the state’s ban on mask requiremen­ts in public schools.

Hutchinson said he’ll call the majorityRe­publican Legislatur­e into session likely next week to amend a state law that prohibits state and local government entities from requiring face masks. Hutchinson said he’ll propose giving local school boards the power to decide whether to require masks in K12 schools.

“This is not a debate about mask mandates for those that can make their own decisions and have the means to get vaccinated,” Hutchinson said. “This is a discussion about the school environmen­t where schools can make decisions about the public health for their school environmen­t and the children they have responsibi­lity to protect.”

Hutchinson also declared a new emergency, two months after ending the declaratio­n he’d put in place at the start of the pandemic last year. Arkansas’ virus cases have skyrockete­d because of the delta variant and the state’s low vaccinatio­n rate.

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