Cabarrus County school board votes to make masks optional, officials say

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — The Cabarrus County Schools Board of Education has voted to make face masks optional for students and staff, officials said.

The decision was passed following a 6-1 vote. It is expected to go into effect Tuesday, Feb. 8.

The board said that masks will still be required on Cabarrus County school buses.

This decision came after several parents said they would protest against the mask mandate outside of the board meeting Monday night.

Board members told Channel 9 that they were greeted by protesters when they arrived at the meeting. In the crowd were several students who said they are tired of wearing masks.

“It makes me very uncomfortable because all the teachers are yelling at all the kids to put the mask above their nose,” sixth grader Kayla Shapiro said.

“It’s very uncomfortable. It’s hard to breathe. It gives headaches. Kids my age, obviously, break out from sweating in the gym,” ninth grader Brody Bloxham said.

Moms for Liberty said they attended the meeting to send the message that it’s time for a change.

“We just want to make sure that we get the point across that we are serious about these issues. That masks are not necessary,” Elizabeth Rorie with Moms for Liberty said.

One board member said she is not convinced that conditions have improved enough to warrant the change.

“Next week, it may be even lower. Which, at that time, I would say yes, let’s go, the metrics look good. But if we could have the vote next week, that would be wonderful,” board member Carolyn Carpenter said.

For the past few weeks, masks have been mandatory after a surge in COVID-19 cases due to the omicron variant.

But at Monday night’s meeting, the board said the metrics had improved.

School officials said there are currently 192 positive COVID-19 cases, and 368 students and 19 staff members have been quarantined.

The district said the percent positivity rate is at 31.6%, which is high but lower than the 38% from last week.

The board said next week they will consider a resolution to stop contact tracing and quarantine requirements.

The board said it doesn’t have the authority to end those measures on its own. It will have to ask the health alliance to do so and the alliance has the final say.

(WATCH BELOW: Parents say they plan to protest mask mandate at Cabarrus County school board meeting)