Masks optional in Rowan-Salisbury Schools for coming school year

Rowan Health Department urges vaccines for teachers, staff, students
The Board of Education voted 5-2 to remove the mask requirement for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.
The Board of Education voted 5-2 to remove the mask requirement for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.(WBTV File)
Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 6:42 AM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Students and staff who wish to shed the mask may do so next year after a vote by the Rowan-Salisbury School Board of Education.

During its Monday meeting, the board voted to make masks optional for students, staff and visitors. The vote was 5-2, with Kevin Jones, Travis Allen, Susan Cox, Dean Hunter and Brian Hightower voting in favor of the motion. Alisha Byrd-Clark and member Jean Kennedy voted against the motion.

Any local vote on masks or other COVID-19 protocols in schools is still subject to state guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Rowan County Health Department is urging teachers and students to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Starting next Friday, Rowan County Public Health will begin offering COVID vaccination clinics at local school sites and at the Wallace Educational Forum. These clinics are open to anyone, but officials say they are especially for local students and teachers as the beginning of school is less than one month away.

“At each of these clinics, please note that the Pfizer vaccine will be given, which is safe for anyone twelve years old and older. It is also important to note that the Pfizer vaccine does require two vaccines to be considered fully vaccinated, so we ask that you plan accordingly,” a press release stated.

  • East Rowan High School Friday, July 23rd; 12 to 3 pm, return Date for 2nd Vaccination: Friday, August 13th; 2 to 5 pm
  • West Rowan Elementary School Tuesday, August 3rd; 12 to 3 pm, return Date for 2nd Vaccination: Tuesday, August 24th; 2 to 5 pm
  • Wallace Educational Forum (Clinic will be targeting teachers) Thursday, August 5th; 10 am to 2 pm, return Date for 2nd Vaccination: Friday, August 27th; 2 to 5 pm

In addition to offering COVID vaccination clinics throughout the community, Rowan County Public Health is also offering COVID vaccinations in-house on Monday afternoons and Thursday mornings. If you are interested in scheduling a COVID vaccine appointment for your child and/or yourself, please call 704-216-7921.

Also with school beginning on August 11th, it is important to make sure that your child’s immunizations are up-to-date. If your child needs to receive any of their required immunizations or needs a physical before school begins, please contact Rowan County Public Health at 704-216-8837. Appointments are available for these services on Tuesday afternoons or Friday mornings.

“As Rowan County’s active COVID numbers have risen to 125 cases, and with only 34% of our total population having received only one dose of their full COVID vaccine, it is now more important than ever for your children to be current on all of their vaccinations,” wrote Amy Smith of Rowan County Public Health. “By doing this, you are doing your part to make sure that your child stays healthy and that he/she is less likely to spread any unnecessary viruses and/or diseases to those they come in contact with.”

In addition to active COVID cases beginning to rise again, Rowan Public Health also reports seeing an increase in the number of children becoming sick with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and an association with the new delta variant. RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms with most people recovering in a week or two. However, RSV can be serious for infants and older adults and can lead to hospitalizations. It is also important to note that RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia (infection of the lungs) in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States.

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