The Moore County Board of Education met for a work session Jan. 10 at 12:30 to discuss COVID-19 guidelines and receive presentations on other school business. The board met again the same day at 6:30 for a business meeting. This article covers the COVID-19 guidelines only.
At the 6:30 meeting, the board voted to mandate mask-wearing until the February school board meeting when it will review the mandate. On Dec. 13, the board voted to make mask-wearing optional for everyone.
The school district on social media said the mandate was reinstated, “Due to the rising number of positive COVID cases and related quarantines resulting from the omicron variant.”
Information graphic provided by Moore County Health Department.
The mask mandate, effective immediately, passed with a two-part amendment for staff and students. The first part is that anyone testing positive remains in isolation for 10 days. The second part is anyone who shows no symptoms and tests negatively may remain in school as much as possible.
The amended mask mandate passed 3 to 2. Chair Robert Levy and Legislative Committee Liaison David Hensley voted against.
The board followed North Carolina Department of Health of Human Services Covid Public Safety Toolkit guidelines in creating the mask mandate.
COVID Discussion Resulting in Mask Requirements
During the 12:30 work session, Moore County Health Department shared recommendations on mask, quarantine, and isolation guidelines, which Hensley said were more stringent than state or CDC guidelines.
Hensley pointed out that the board could not legally go against recommendations from the health department.
“We’re putting the schools in between a rock and a hard place,” Vice Chair Libby Chair said about making children wear masks at school when they do not wear them to every single place with other populations.
Chair Robert Levy said he thought mask and quarantine mandates are political.
“It just makes no sense to turn away a child from school that is healthy,” Levy said about people testing negative after an exposure.
It was suggested that the discussion about COVID and mask mandates was not necessary.
Hensley said questioning the mandates and isolation requirements was part of following the science, and the discussion was necessary.
Hensley recommended those who test positive stay out for 10 days of quarantine. Those who are exposed and test negative should return to school.
Public Comments on Masks
At the 6:30 meeting, several speakers voiced support for optional masks, some stating it was a matter of freedom. Statements were made on media blasting fear, spins on data, and the ineffectiveness of masks.
Speaker Trisha Athens said she was concerned about the hiring of more nurses and the appropriation of $1.4 million for the possibility of children having a COVID vaccine without parental consent under the Mature Minor Doctrine.
Athens said children are not carriers, and data increasingly show “irreversible injury and death from this gene therapy.”
To view the school board meeting, please click here. Athens’ full speech may be viewed beginning at the 7:07 time mark.
Two speakers supported the mask mandate.
Feature photo of students arriving at Pinecrest High School by John Patota/Sandhills Sentinel.
~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Journalist Stephanie M. Sellers. Contact her at [email protected].