Parents split after Cabarrus County school board mandates masks for students

CONCORD, N.C. — Masks were front and center at four school board meetings across the Charlotte area on Monday night as students get ready to head back to the classroom.

Three of those school districts decided to reverse their mask-optional policy and will now require face coverings for the upcoming year. Students and teachers in Burke, Cabarrus and Gaston County schools will now have to wear masks.

But in Caldwell County, masks will remain optional after a motion to change the policy failed.

>> CLICK HERE for masks rules from other local districts.

Following a briefing from the Cabarrus Health Alliance, the school board voted 5-2 to require masks be worn when students go back to class next week.

Beth Goodman’s rising 6th grader is immunocompromised, and without a mask requirement in schools, she told Channel 9 she’d have to withdraw both of her children from Cabarrus County public schools.

“I can’t send big brother out to high school, who could turn around and come home with COVID, and just keep my younger son at home because that’s still not protecting him,” Goodman said. “So, the best way to keep them both safe and healthy would be to withdraw them from public school.”

A mask vote wasn’t on the Cabarrus County Board of Education’s agenda Monday, but members added it after hearing about the updated metrics in the county, including a 12.9% test positivity rate.

The latest data was not enough to convince some board members.

“I will not vote to mandate masks for these children,” said Board member Laura Blackwell.

But the newly sworn-in superintendent, Dr. John Kopicki, disagreed.

“My recommendation based on that (data) is to begin the school year fully masked,” he said.

It’s a decision not all parents are happy with, but for Goodman, it’s a welcome one.

“My younger son is really hopeful that he’ll still get to go to middle school. He has been looking forward to it so much. He has waited so long to get back into a school building,” she said. “We know what worked in schools preventing the spread last year was this layered approach.”

The school board will discuss the mask mandate again at their meeting next month. For now, though, when students and staff start school on Monday, they will be wearing masks in the building and on school buses.

(WATCH BELOW: Cabarrus County mom with immunocompromised child upset with masks optional order for schools)