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Starting the School Year Masks are Optional

After Governor Roy Cooper’s recent announcement that relaxed the state’s mandate requiring students and staff to wear face coverings at school, the Board of Education met today in a called meeting to discuss appropriate safety and health protocols for the upcoming school year. The School Board unanimously voted that face masks would be optional for students in grades K-12 and staff in the 2021-2022 school year.

Superintendent Dr. Phipps shared countywide COVID-19 data and reviewed state recommendations from the Governor’s recent press conference. “The key takeaway for us is that many of the required items are now shoulds, which lays the responsibility in the laps of School Boards to make the decision,” Phipps said.

Phipps reiterated that he had been in contact with local health officials and had agreed with them to keep a strong presence of best health practices in place as the new school year began. “We will continue to maintain regular communication with health professionals and a daily collection of health data in schools.  We also reserve the ability to be more restrictive in a particular area or across the board as needed.”

Students will begin school on August 23, 2021, and school operations will return to five days a week, Monday through Friday. Temperature screening and COVID question protocols are not required per state guidelines. However, schools will continue to request that parents do not send their children to school if the child is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. The school district will also continue with cleaning protocols in each of the schools and physical distancing as much as feasibly possible. Schools will follow the close contact and quarantine procedures clearly outlined by school nurses as defined by local, state, and national protocols.

“Since the Governor made his recommendations for the return of school, I have had many notifications from Caldwell County citizens,” said Board member Duane Knight. “I have read them all and what I have found is that 9 out of 10 want the students to return with a choice. This is a school system of choice.”

The COVID-19 State of Emergency executive order ends June 30, 2021, removing its mask mandate.

“We’re pleased that parents will be the ones to get to make the decision for their child – what’s best for their children, wearing a mask or not,” said Teresa Branch, Vice-Chairman.