Local school board member connects spread of COVID-19 to illegal immigration

CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. — Cabarrus County Schools Vice Chairman Tim Furr is being criticized after a comment he made Monday night while the School Board discussed its decision to make masks optional this upcoming school year.

”If you ask me if I’m changing my stance on optional, no,” Furr said Monday night. “I’m going to tell you why. I’m not trying to be on a high horse, and I’m not trying to make this political, but until this government (stops) letting illegal aliens in by the thousands, coming across this border without masks with COVID, putting them on buses and sending them all over the United States, we’re just beating our heads against a wall, because these numbers are going to continue to rise. And we’re going to be having this same conversation day after day and week after week.”

At that point, board member Keshia Sandidge tried to chime in but was told not to interrupt.

[COUNTY BY COUNTY: Local school districts’ mask-wearing policies]

Lee Shuman is one of the parents who thought Furr was being political and insensitive.

“I have a child in elementary, middle and high school and none of what happens to them and how we respond to COVID has anything to do with illegal immigration,” Shuman said. “And to bring that to the table and make that the No. 1 reason for why you’d never change your mind on a mask mandate is completely unacceptable, and it shows a lack of intelligence.”

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Furr told Channel 9 on the phone Tuesday that his comments weren’t political and represent the views of many who elected him.

“I would say that’s one group of people’s opinion, because I’ve got dozens and dozens of emails, telephone calls, text messages, that stated that I was dead-on, and they appreciated my stance and their concerns,” Furr said.

[LINK: StrongSchoolsNC toolkit]

Sandidge said in a statement that, “The coronavirus knows no borders, ethnic groups, genders or religious affiliations; it’s an equal opportunity killer! The inaccurate declaration made last night needs to be addressed with a formal apology to our community, students, teachers and administrators.”

Full statement from Keshia Sandidge:

Last night, during an open discussion, I was uncomfortable with comments made by a colleague on the Cabarrus County Board of Education.

First, I want to publicly apologize to the community for my interruption during the session. Nonetheless, at this critical time, it is important that we as a community do all we can to ensure communications regarding the coronavirus and its impact on our schools are accurate, well-informed and without bias.

Health and safety must be at the forefront of all we do as a school board.

Additionally, dignity and respect for all human beings must be at the center of our thoughts, comments and actions.

The universal fact is the coronavirus knows no borders, ethnic groups, genders or religious affiliations; it is an equal opportunity killer!

The inaccurate declaration made last night needs to be addressed with a formal apology to our community, students, teachers and administrators.

As we affirmed a few weeks ago, I stand with my colleagues in commitment to non-discriminatory acts as described below in items three through seven (directly from the Cabarrus County Board of Education’s recently adopted “Resolution to Ensure Dignity and Nondiscrimination in Schools”):

3. That an individual should not be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly because of his or her race or sex.

4. That an individual’s moral character is not determined by his or her race or sex.

5. That no individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

6. That no individual, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex, should feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress; and

7. That the United States comprises of persons that are all created equally.

Over the last few hours, I’ve heard from many constituents regarding the divisive nature of these unfortunate comments. Although disappointed, we cannot allow them to distract and divide from the important work of providing for the health and safety of our children. The continued care and well-being of our students, staff and our community are my No. 1 concerns.

There are many reasons why we have seen an uptick in our communities of positive COVID-19 cases.

There is no single subset of people who can or should be blamed for the dangers before us because of a global pandemic. As indicated by scientific data and doctors across our state, the simplest ways to protect ourselves from contracting and/or spreading COVID-19 is to follow CDC guidelines for masks, social distancing and hand washing.

This is the very reason why I decided to focus on the facts and take action to ensure we are all protected from this virus and many others. It is my hope we all continue to be kind to one another yet advocate for what we as a collective board believes is best for our beloved community. As I’ve stated many times, I love and will continue to fight for a better Cabarrus for ALL our citizens.

(WATCH BELOW: School board member raises questions about immigration during mask discussion)