Benton County Circuit Judge Xollie Duncan granted an injunction Wednesday, placing a temporary restraining order Wednesday on Bentonville Schools’ mask mandate after a group of parents sued the district, saying the school’s mask mandate violates parents’ constitutional rights of care and control of their children.
Duncan found the Bentonville School District did not have the authority to issue the mask mandate, saying that neither Governor Asa Hutchinson nor the Secretary of Health had issued a mask policy for schools.
Duncan ruled that only the Governor and Secretary of Health have the legal authority to issue mask mandates and set quarantine rules under Arkansas law, and the power to issue and enforce mandates does not lie with individual school districts.
The Bentonville mandate was passed by the district in August. It states that all students ages three and older must wear masks indoors and on school buses, except when eating or drinking.
Following the decision by the judge the Bentonville School District lifted their mandate, sending out a statement to media outlets saying: “We’re pleased to see the latest data which reveals COVID-19 infection rates trending in the right direction. We believe the current numbers would have led us to this decision regardless of today’s outcome.”