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Cabarrus County Schools reverses decision, votes to require masks in return to classroom

When Cabarrus County Schools begin Aug. 23, masks will be required for students, staff and...
When Cabarrus County Schools begin Aug. 23, masks will be required for students, staff and visitors.(WBTV)
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - When Cabarrus County Schools begin on Monday, masks will be required for students, staff and visitors.

New superintendent Dr. John Kopicki, who was sworn in earlier in the meeting, told the board that he favored the mask mandate: “I am going to recommend to the board that I think we begin the school year masked. I think it’s the best way to go, I think it’s the most efficient way to go, most importantly, I think with everything rising and the unknown, because we really don’t know, I think the charge that keeps coming back to me that our job #1 is to keep kids safe.”

Kopicki added that he believes that the best research shows that masking does reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Cabarrus County Board of Education held a meeting on Monday night and voted 5-2 to require masks indoors and on buses for K-12; staff and visitors; effective immediately.

School district officials say masks must be worn unless actively eating, but there will be mask breaks throughout the day.

There is a medical exemption for wearing masks.

Board members Laura Blackwell and Tim Furr voted against the mandate.

“Because there is so much discrepancy numbers that we do and don’t have, changes with now you don’t have to social distance, and these masks might be this effective but only if they’re worn properly and if you’re vaccinated you can still carry the virus and spread the virus if you’re vaccinated, again, it just doesn’t make sense,” Black well said. “There’s something, multiple things, that are just off and I’m sure that in two months from now we’re going to hear something else, my guess is probably that masks aren’t really all that effective, but that’s just my personal opinion.”

“So really, what we’re ultimately saying, and have been, and this is what we’re trying to get out there to the general audience, we’re trying to prevent kids being quarantined, teachers being quarantined so that we don’t have the shortages in employees that we’re having a hard time covering anyway,” said Board Chair Holly Grimsley.

The board will revisit the issue in its next business meeting. A task force that includes members of the school system and Cabarrus Health Alliance will advise the board on the status of the pandemic locally.

Cabarrus County was one of several school districts in the WBTV viewing area discussing the COVID-19 safety protocol.

Last Wednesday, N.C. health officials updated its StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit which recommends schools to require masking in grades K - 8 for all students and staff. In addition, it states schools should require masking for staff and students who are not vaccinated in grades 9 - 12.

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