LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Little Rock students may soon get paid to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. School board members will discuss implementing this incentive when it meets Thursday.

“We have several things to be thinking about and make some decisions on,” said Greg Adams, the board’s president.

Additionally, members will discuss whether to continue requiring students to wear masks, if any changes need to be made to the district’s visitor policy and other topics under the “Ready for Learning” umbrella.

The omicron variant’s rapid spread comes at a time of low vaccination rates in children. State health experts repeatedly point to full vaccination and continued masking when distancing cannot be achieved as the recipe for successful in-person procedures.

“Part of the encouragement for students is if they get vaccinated, they can be out of school less,” Adams said.

LRSD administration recommended adding a $50 incentive for students who get vaccinated by a certain date. Several months ago, a similar proposal was discussed but shelved when administrators realized the board needed to make the decision.

Adams, who said he is in favor of the incentive, said the question is what the effect will be.

“Do we have enough people on the fence that this kind of incentive would help them to move in that direction?” Adams said.

Jeff Wood is a school board member, too, and he said he has questions about the ethics of paying kids to get the shot. He said he is open to what the board decides, but he may vote against that item if it comes to it.

“I just think we need to be careful with that, just take it into consideration,” Wood said. “What are the ethics of what we’re doing?”

Wood said he thinks the mask requirement will be extended, and he lauded the high vaccination rate among staff members as a sign of the work the district is doing to promote safety.

“I don’t think there’s going to be anyone in the room proposing an immediate end to the mask mandate,” Wood said.

The board could ultimately decide not to vote on any element of the agenda, Adams said, but he doesn’t think any health restrictions will be lifted at this time regardless of what happens.

“I would be decided if the board decided to make a change when things are so dicey for students and families right now,” Adams said.

Members of the public can attend via Zoom on Thursday, as pandemic protocols mean only board members can attend in person.