Iredell-Statesville Schools expects masks to be optional for upcoming school year

IREDELL COUNTY, N.C. — Iredell-Statesville Schools says it anticipates masks being optional for the upcoming school year.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s current COVID-19 state of emergency ends on July 30 and because of that, school leaders said they do not anticipate any state-wide mandate that students wear masks during the upcoming school year.

If there is a new state-wide mandate requiring students and teachers to wear masks in schools for the 2021-2022 school year, the district said it will give religious, medical and behavioral exemptions.

In addition, the district will stop temperature screening and COVID question protocols. Leaders said they will continue with strict cleaning in each of the schools. Parents are asked to not send their children to school if they are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

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During the 2020-2021 school year, if a student or employee tested positive for COVID-19, any person in close contact -- within 6-feet for 15 minutes -- was asked to quarantine. School leaders said this led to several classrooms and schools being temporarily closed and moved to remote learning.

The CDC now recommends the “six foot rule” to reduced to 3-feet. The district said this potential change in how a close contact is defined could lead to fewer quarantines and school closures.

School leaders encouraged families to contact the governor and state legislators to have the definition of close contact changed from 6-feet to 3-feet.

The district said it will continue to work with local and state health officials on the appropriate COVID-19 protocols and recommendations.

(WATCH BELOW: Schools can move students closer and still be safe from COVID-19, CDC says)