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CMS to continue to follow state health guidelines for masks in schools

Published: Jul. 14, 2021 at 5:21 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Multiple school districts have voted to make masks optional in schools, but Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools says it won’t be making any changes at this time.

Current CDC guidance states vaccinated students and teachers do not have to wear masks in school settings.

The agency says masks should be worn by all individuals who are not fully vaccinated.

During its Monday meeting, the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education voted to make masks optional for students, staff, and visitors for the 2021-2022 school year.

The Union County Public Schools Board of Education voted Tuesday to make masks optional for students and staff starting August 1.

Some CMS parents are asking CMS to consider doing the same.

Several people took to the podium at Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting expressing why they feel masks should not be required in schools.

“Forty states have lifted this mask mandate or maybe not even had one at all, it’s time that we stand up for our kids. There should be no mask mandates in this school and there should be no dependency on vaccinations that are experimental,” one parent said.

WBTV reached out to CMS spokespersons for a response to how other school districts are making masks optional.

Many restrictions in place during much of the pandemic have been eased over the past several weeks, and indications are further rollbacks are likely prior to the start of the 2021-2022 school year. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will follow the directions of state government and health officials regarding masks in schools.

In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper’s executive order still requires masks to be worn in school settings regardless of vaccination status. The executive order is set to expire at the end of July unless Governor Cooper extends or changes it.

Governor Cooper and NCDHHS Health Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen have said previously they would reconsider the mask mandate if the CDC updated its guidance. A spokesperson for NCDHHS shared this statement with WBTV on relaxing the mask mandate in schools:

“We still have a large number of North Carolinians who are unvaccinated, many of whom are children. We need to prioritize protecting the children who have either not yet had the chance to be vaccinated, or are not yet eligible due to being under 12 years old. People who have not yet gotten their vaccine need to continue to wear a mask and keep their distance from other people to slow the spread of the virus and variants, until they are able to get vaccinated. The CDC continues to recommend that those who are unvaccinated wear a mask indoors, which includes the vast majority of K-12 students. All three COVID-19 vaccines we have in North Carolina are tested, safe and effective at protecting against serious illness, hospitalization, and death.

“Vaccines are the best way we can all safely get back to the people, places and activities we love. Just this morning we sent out a press release urging all North Carolinians to get vaccinated as COVID-19 cases have increased throughout the state. Variants, including the new Delta variant, are a major concern for people who aren’t vaccinated as many variants are more easily transmitted and some cause more severe disease. The currently available COVID vaccines are the best protection against the virus and its variants.

“More information on vaccines can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines and a vaccination finder can be found at https://www.vaccines.gov/search/. The CDC’s updated guidance continues to recommend that unvaccinated persons continue to wear masks in schools as well as other settings that serve children including child care and camps. We will continue to look at the data to guide our decisions, and are currently evaluating the CDC’s updated guidance.”

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