Masks will be optional in the Bentonville schools starting Thursday after a local judge ruled in favor of some parents who had filed a lawsuit over the district’s mask mandate.
Benton County Circuit Judge Xollie Duncan granted an injunction Wednesday to prohibit the School District from enforcing the mandate. She issued her ruling nearly a week after presiding over a hearing in the case.
Duncan found the district did not have the authority to issue the mask mandate. She noted neither Gov. Asa Hutchinson nor the secretary of health had issued a mask policy for schools. Duncan said each one has the authority to issue a policy requiring masks, but the power does not rest with individual school districts.
“I’m excited for the families,” Attorney Greg Payne said. “It’s a redemption for them. The court recognizes that they have a fundamental liberty interest in the case. Parents can still put masks on their children, but the ones that don’t want to are not required to mask their children.”