Parents plea for state health officials to take action after Lincoln Co. Schools change COVID policy

LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. — Tuesday night, the Lincoln County School Board voted to make masks optional starting Sept. 29. The board also decided to change its quarantine police, much like how Union County Schools did.

Several parents told Channel 9′s Ken Lemon that they reached out to the state, pleading with health officials to take action after the decision.

Those parents are frustrated and some said they may take their children out of school if the school board doesn’t reverse course and require masks. But board members said many parents overwhelmingly told them they are fed up with the mask mandate.

“I’m going to die of something someday, but I’ve got a 99.9% chance it will not be COVID,” parent Kevin Sanders said. “We can’t stop living because we are worried of dying and I won’t.”

These parents see things very differently.

The frustration continues for parents of students at Lincoln County Schools. Some said the board didn’t follow the recommendation of their own health officials and a representative from the largest hospital in the county wasn’t allowed to speak to the board.

“Follow the people that know what they are talking about,” parent Whittney Hafele said. “We checked the numbers.”

There were 139 cases in Lincoln County Schools in the three weeks students were in school in August. 126 were in the first week of September, almost more in that week that the first three weeks combined. And even more, 143 cases, the following week.

Rachael Morris’ 11-year-old son is immunocompromised and too young to get vaccinated. She said he is severely allergic to medicines used to treat COVID-19.

“He could literally die from them trying to save his life from COVID,” she said.

She said the mask mandate which is set to end in two weeks is the only protection he has.

“We have this little ticking clock that says in the next two weeks that I have to decide if I am homeschooling my children,” Morris said.

Those parents and others are pleading with the state to take over.

“Please step in here and make our local school board do the right thing,” parent David Bonnema said. “The school board, they are not qualified to make these decisions.”

Parents have also met with school board members hoping to change some of their votes. One mother said she left feeling defeated.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services sent a statement to Channel 9 regarding the schools COVID-19 policy changes.

“We are currently looking at what actions will be taken in Lincoln County. Again, it is our hope that we can work together,” the statement said.

Channel 9 reached out to the chairman Friday to see if the board may reconsider their vote before the mask-optional time begins. We have not heard back at this point.

Full statement from NCDHHS sent to Channel 9:

“We all share the same goal of keeping our students, teachers and staff in the classroom where children learn best. Excluding students from school should be a last resort. The guidance and recommendations in our StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit are designed to safely keep students in classrooms. Our attorneys have had productive conversations with attorneys for the Union County Board of Education, and we are hopeful that we can avoid further legal action. We are currently looking at what actions will be taken in Lincoln County. Again, it is our hope that we can work together. Our priority is to protect student, staff and community health.”

(WATCH BELOW: No changes announced for Union County School COVID protocols; district could face legal action)