Here’s how the mask mandate will impact schools across North Carolina

Here is how the mask mandate will impact schools across North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA — North Carolina leaders announced Wednesday that students, teachers and staff will be required to wear masks while on school grounds.

Face coverings must be worn at every high school and middle school in the state. They are are not required at elementary schools, but are encouraged.

According to the new guidance for schools, mask must be worn by students, staff and visitors.

Content Continues Below

They must be worn on school property -- indoors and outdoors -- where social distancing isn’t possible.

They’re also required while riding the school bus.

There are a few exceptions:

  • Masks should not be worn if the person has trouble breathing or is unconscious
  • Masks should not be worn if the person is unable to remove the face covering without assistance
  • Masks should not be worn by someone who can’t tolerate a face covering due to a developmental, medical or behavior health need

“It’s definitely going to be hard for them to welcome this change and be in this change,” parent Jolandra Houston said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School teachers and Houston said people can use this time to prepare students for the fall and the many changes likely ahead.

“Going back to schools, and they’re seeing their desks are separated, farther apart, they can’t eat in the cafeteria and they have to wear masks, including temp checks. It can cause children to have anxiety, so it’s very important that we prep them,” Houston said.

Houston even started a program two years ago called Little Germinators to educate children in a fun, positive way about hand-washing and germs. She said she has seen success.

It’s relevant now more than ever, and Houston said if people start educating at home and in the community, it won’t be such a challenge for students.

“Implementing them in the house as well as at school. It takes all of us we are all in this together,” she said.

Parent Allison Walsh and her children said they have been wearing masks and will continue wearing them, including in school.

“I don’t know about everyone else’s experiences with distance learning, but if a mask will let my kids go back to school and be in a classroom with their teachers, I am all for it,” Walsh said.

>> Have questions about the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on the Carolinas? We have an entire section dedicated to coverage of the outbreak -- CLICK HERE FOR MORE.

The statewide mask mandate comes as families are waiting on a reopening plan from Gov. Roy Cooper and state education leaders.

Here are the current scenarios for the fall:

  • Plan A: Minimal Social Distancing (All students will be in school with certain safety measures in place)
  • Plan B: Moderate Social Distancing (Schools will operate at 50% capacity with a mix of in-person and remote learning)
  • Plan C: Remote Learning Only (Students will remain home and learn online)

Channel 9 learned one of the scenarios will likely be selected by July 1.

>> We’ll bring you LIVE updates on Channel 9 Eyewitness News. Get extended coverage on the free WSOC Now app on Roku, Amazon Fire and Apple TV.

As health leaders issue guidance on reopening NC schools, Cooper has warning