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Arkansas sued by 2 school districts over mask mandate ban

The lawsuit from LRSD and Marion School District claim that the Arkansas legislature's passing of a law banning mask mandates is unconstitutional.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — (Editor's Note: The attached video is from a report on Aug. 3)

Little Rock School District and Marion School District—where hundreds of staff and students are quarantining because of a COVID-19 outbreak— have both sued Arkansas over its ban on mask mandates.

The lawsuit comes days after two parents filed a suit against the state over the measure Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed into law in April prohibiting schools and other governmental bodies from requiring masks. 

Hutchinson called the Legislature back into session this week to consider rolling back the ban for schools but faces heavy opposition from fellow Republicans. 

Hutchinson has faced growing calls to lift the ban as Arkansas' coronavirus cases spiral ahead of classes resuming statewide later this month.

But a House committee Thursday rejected two proposals to allow school boards to require masks in buildings where children under 12 may be present. The move means lawmakers on Friday will likely adjourn the session called to revisit the bans without any action on the issue.

The schools' lawsuit argues that the ban violates Arkansas' constitution. It seeks a temporary order blocking the prohibition while the lawsuit is considered.

“No rational reason exists for denying public school students, teachers and staff, and the school boards which are obligated to keep them safe, the ability to ensure that all who work and learn in our public schools are as safe as possible," the lawsuit said.

The Marion School District on Thursday said 839 students and 10 staff have quarantined since classes began last week because of its outbreak. The district said in a Facebook post that 46 students and 10 staff have tested positive for the virus.