Arkansas schools running low on masks as more kids come to class without one

A school nurse says more parents are becoming forgetful to send a mask with their child to class, as they prepare to combat both the flu and COVID-19.

BENTON, Ark. — One school nurse sees more children coming to class without a mask, which is bad timing because right now, with flu season getting underway, it’s critical to take safety seriously.

“Each day as the year goes on, it seems like more children are forgetting,” said Amber Raymond, Benton School District registered nurse.

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Raymond is struggling to keep school-issued masks in stock at Howard Perrin Elementary as more parents are becoming more forgetful to send one with their child to class and as they prepare to combat both the flu and COVID-19.

“It’s a part of the dress code. We’ve made it that way to make sure every student has one on as a mitigation strategy,” said Raymond.

Students are urged to bring a clean mask every day to ensure there are enough emergency supplied school masks.

This reminder comes from area doctors as Benton Schools and others across Arkansas work to keep the two viruses from spreading.

“I know they are tired and have some fatigue around the pandemic,” said Dr. Rawle Seupaul, UAMS physician.

Dr. Seupaul said despite frustration, no one in the community should let their guard down, especially now.

“Wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining distance — not only does that work for the coronavirus, but also the flu,” said Dr. Seupaul.

Benton schools have started early vaccinating children and staff for the flu, better preparing for the viral season ahead.

“We’ve encouraged students and parents as well to receive those vaccines and our numbers are really good this year,” said Raymond.

The school district not only asks parents to remember their child’s mask, but also if your children show any signs or symptoms of either virus, stay home.

“Please parents, do not send your children to school sick. We ask that you self-check at home. Ask them the common questions like, ‘Do you have a sore throat, fever, headache,’” said Raymond.

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Benton schools and most others encourage students to bring extra masks in their backpacks in case they forget one from home.