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Randolph County school board votes to not require masks in schools

Currently, the North Carolina mask mandate still applies to schools.

RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Randolph County school board members voted to get rid of a mask requirement in schools during a Monday night meeting. The board agreed unanimously that it was up to teachers and students to decide if they want to wear a mask. 

The resolution means masks will be optional for students and staff, even for those who are not vaccinated. 

"Not have the mask as part of our back-to-school list is, to me, very nice," Shannon Bullion said, "She's just so excited. I've never seen her want to rush through summer to get back to her friends."

Bullion's daughter is a rising second-grader in Randolph County Schools.

Kasey Holcomb said her soon-to-be seventh-grader and second-grader are also excited about the change.

"(My daughter) wears glasses so the mask is a big issue for her because she's seven and they get fogged up and it's frustrating for her," Holcomb said.

According to Superintendent Stephen Gainey, the new resolution is effective immediately and applies to the remaining days of summer school as well as the upcoming school year. 

"Students and staff members can make their own decision regarding whether or not to wear a cloth face-covering in the Randolph County School System," Superintendent Stephen Gainey said in an emailed statement to WFMY News 2. 

“Failure to wear a mask will not be considered a violation of board policy or school rules. All students, staff, and community members are asked to make their own decisions respecting their personal health and whether to wear a mask. Any harassment, discrimination, or bullying on a person’s decision to wear or not wear a mask will not be tolerated," a board member read from the new resolution during the meeting. 

CDC guidelines currently recommend anyone who is not vaccinated should wear a mask. 

Currently, the North Carolina state mask mandate still applies to schools. 

We're still working to find out more details about what this means for the upcoming school year. 

Novant Health Infectious Disease expert Dr. David Priest thinks removing the masks could lead to more COVID-19 outbreaks in schools.

"I think school districts some will say it's optional and then parents will have to kind of make that call but they're increasing their likelihood their kid can get through the school year in person if that child can wear a mask," Priest said.

Other school systems like Guilford County, are holding off on announcing mask policies, as they wait for more guidance from the CDC and state health officials. 

"While we read the CDC’s new guidance with interest, as of today (July 20), masking is still required by the state’s public health department and the Governor’s Executive Order No. 163 for all students and staff in North Carolina K-12 public schools. Masking is also required for students and staff on school buses. If or when this changes, we will review our protocols and make adjustments as needed. In the meantime, we encourage all students and staff to get vaccinated prior to the start of the new school year," a Guilford County Schools spokesperson sent in a statement to us. 

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