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Parents file lawsuit challenging Arkansas ban on mask mandates

The parents asked a Pulaski County judge in a filing dated Monday to issue a temporary order blocking the state from enforcing the law, calling it unconstitutional.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Two Arkansas parents have sued the state seeking to overturn a law prohibiting schools and other governmental bodies from requiring face masks.

The parents asked a Pulaski County judge in a filing dated Monday to issue a temporary order blocking the state from enforcing the law, calling it unconstitutional.

The lawsuit was filed as lawmakers are preparing to convene for a special session on Gov. Asa Hutchinson's proposal to partly roll back the law and allow K-12 public schools to allow masks. Hutchinson, a Republican, signed the law in April.

Hutchinson and legislative leaders have faced growing calls to revisit the mask mandate ban as the state’s coronavirus cases and hospitalizations spiral. The state on Monday reported its biggest one day increase in hospitalizations since the pandemic began. 

Hutchinson faces an uphill climb convincing the majority-GOP to make the change, which would require at least two-thirds support in the House and Senate to take effect before school begins this month.

The House and Senate on Tuesday allowed a renewed emergency declaration Hutchinson issued last week because of the latest surge in virus cases to stay in place.