Masks to remain optional in Union County schools despite thousands quarantined

UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Parents will continue to have the right to decide whether their child will wear a mask inside Union County schools.

A motion to mandate masks inside Union County Public Schools was struck down 5-4 during a board of education meeting Tuesday, despite thousands of students and staff in quarantine.

Channel 9 was at the meeting and parents who were both for and against the mandate showed up to support their stance. Dozens of law enforcement officers were posted outside the meeting to make sure the dueling rallies remained peaceful.

Parent Brian Cox said he believes that parents should have the choice, and he attended the meeting to send a message that the board made the right decision to not require masks.

“My kids won’t wear a mask, that’s plain and simple … ultimately I have the decision about my children,” Cox said.

Another parent, April Wyche, said she attended the meeting to show the board that the parents who want to keep masks optional do not represent all of Union County.

“It’s important for them (mask-optional supporters) to know they don’t represent all of Union County and for our board to see they don’t represent all of Union County,” she said.

Channel 9 also spoke with students who said they want to wear masks to protect the people they love.

“I would say that when you wear a mask, you’re not protecting yourself, but you’re protecting other people,” Porter Ridge student Chloe Moore said.

The Union County Public Schools district reported last Friday that 5,410 students and staff members were quarantined after 367 people tested positive, according to data from district officials.

Currently, there are no campuses on remote instruction and masks will remain optional.

(WATCH: Union County School District has an optional mask policy)