Arkansas mask Trial

The ban on mask mandates in Arkansas went to trial Monday in a Pulaski County court. (Photo by KATV)

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The ban on mask mandates in Arkansas went to trial Monday in a Pulaski County court.

Act 1002 was signed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson earlier this year and went into effect on July 28 before being temporarily blocked by Pulaski County Judge Tim Fox.

Hutchinson retained his own council in this matter, previously saying he regretted signing the law. Hutchinson's attorneys, as well as those for the plaintiffs, called more than a dozen witnesses to the stand.

Those who joined in on this lawsuit include concerned parents, the Little Rock and Marion school districts, as well as Pulaski County. They argued that entities such as school districts, local corrections facilities, and the Arkansas National Guard should have the option to require masks as they see fit to ensure safety.

The superintendent of the Marion School District took the stand because they were the first to have a sharp increase in cases at the start of this school year, topping as many as 1,000 students and staff in quarantine during the second week of school.

Superintendent Glen Fenter claims that the spike was because Act 1002 did not allow them to require masks until the block was ordered in early August.

“The capacity to put masks on our kids helped us save lives and helped us keep kids in school and helped us make certain that we were doing everything we could to give every one of our students to achieve their God-given potential by coming to school as opposed to staying at home," he said. "So from our perspective, it was a godsend.”

Arkansas Secretary of Health Dr. Jose Romero was called upon by attorneys representing the school districts. He testified that data from the Arkansas Department of Health shows school districts with a mask mandate saw a 25% reduction in COVID-19 cases in both adults and children compared to districts without one.

The trial did conclude Monday evening, but there was not a ruling by Fox because he is giving all parties, in this case, the ability to send in a post-trial brief for their closing arguments. They have until Dec. 10 to submit that brief, and Fox is expected to make a ruling afterward.

This article originally ran on ktbs.com.

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