Arkansas’ largest school district ends its mask mandate

September 15, 2021 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas’ largest school district has ended its mask mandate as the state reported 28 new COVID-19 deaths.

The Springdale School Board on Tuesday voted to end its requirement Wednesday for K-7 students to wear masks indoors and on buses.

Springdale was among more than 100 districts that imposed mask requirements after a judge blocked the state’s ban on government mask mandates. The requirements have covered more than half of the state’s public-school students.

Arkansas on Wednesday said the state’s COVID-19 death toll now totals 7,362. The state’s coronavirus cases rose by 1,919 to 479,110 total since the pandemic began.

The state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations dipped slightly by seven to 1,090. There are 450 COVID-19 patients in intensive care units around the state and 289 on ventilators. The Department of Health said 32 ICU beds are available in the state.

Arkansas ranks 17th nationally for new cases per capita, according to Johns Hopkins University research data.