COVID-19 cases in Arkansas rising as teachers gear up for new school year

Published: Jul. 15, 2021 at 6:18 PM CDT
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MARION COUNTY, Ark. (WMC) - In just 11 days, the Marion School District will begin it’s new school year.

“What we’re looking for is some sense of normalcy. We just want to get back to being able to have school, have our teachers in the classroom with our students,” said Marion School District superintendent, Dr. Glen Fenter.

Fenter says the rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations is concerning. Almost everyday this past week, the state reported over 1,000 new cases. Fenter says what’s even more discouraging is the small amount of people taking advantage of vaccination events.

Only 39 percent of Arkansas population is fully vaccinated. In Crittenden County, that number is lower 26 percent.

“Part of our responsibility is to try to educate folks and create opportunities for them to access a vaccination site. We would have loved to have 500,” Fenter said.

Fenter says during Wednesday’s vaccination event, only 50 people showed up. Both times the district has held an event, they’ve had the same turn out.

“This is real. People are getting sick. They are going to get sicker. People are dying. It’s time to step forward and do the right thing. Put politics behind us. Do the right thing for our communities and put us in a position where we can educate our children and do so appropriately,” Fenter said.

Fenter says come July 26, the district will be doing in-person learning. He says they are encouraging students and staff to wear face masks. He says they can not mandate face masks due to state law.

That state law is Act 1002. It went into effect at the end of April. Fenter hopes state leaders consider rolling it back.

“We’re encouraging our state leadership to reconsider their position. I can’t help but believe if they had known what it was going to be like today that some of their decisions that they made back during the last legislative session would have turned out differently,” Fenter said.

The district says it will continue to hold vaccination events every third week of the month until they see things get better.

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