Mask debate: CMS, other school districts looking for guidance from Cooper

CONCORD, N.C. — Gov. Roy Cooper returned to the Charlotte area Tuesday afternoon to check out, first-hand, how COVID-19 vaccinations are going at Northwest Cabarrus High School in Concord.

A mask mandate in the classroom is currently in effect until the end of July. The CDC recently released guidance saying that kids and teachers who are vaccinated don’t have to wear masks.

The governor said new state guidance is coming soon but pointed out that kids under 12 can’t get shots.

“We do know it is important for people who have not been vaccinated to wear a mask, and obviously children under 12 are not vaccinated. We are going to look at all of that and come up with some recommendations soon,” Cooper said.

Some school boards aren’t waiting.

The Rowan-Salisbury School District is one of several in the state that voted to make masks optional this school year.

(Watch the video below to learn about the Free the Smiles Act, which would allow individual North Carolina school districts to decide on mask requirements)

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

The push for students to not force them to wear masks in the classroom made its way to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, but the district may not have the appetite to defy the governor. Dozens of people addressed the CMS Board Tuesday night at the Government Center in uptown.

Some parents said they want their kids to be able to leave their masks at home.

“Parents should have the choice whether kids have to wear a piece of cloth or paper on their face,” parent Sarah Huitt said.

“The mask mandates need to end,” parent Mary Margaret said. “Schools need to run as normal as they can.”

The odds that CMS will defy a mask mandate from the governor are slim-to-none, but it’s unclear how the district will act if the governor allows local school boards to make their own decisions.

A parent pleaded to the board to leave the mask mandate in place because she is worried about the long-term impacts of the virus.

“We are calling on mandatory mask requirements to continue in CMS,” parent Megan Carmilani said.

Tuesday night’s crowd was the largest it has been at the Government Center since the start of the pandemic. Two board members and the student advisor wore masks while conducting the meeting.

“Over 75% of you are not wearing a mask,” parent Bob Stebbins pointed out to the board. “So why are you asking our kids to wear them?”

Union County Public Schools

In Union County, the Board of Education voted unanimously to make masks optional starting Aug 1. Some parents told Channel 9 that masks should be mandatory for every child this upcoming school year.

“We’re not asking for masks all year,” said parent Elena Brown. “We’re just asking for masks until people have the choice to get their child the vaccines.”

Many school districts are still waiting for the governor and state health officials to provide some updated guidance on the issue.

(WATCH BELOW: Union County Schools to decide on mask requirement for school year)

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