Craven County Schools board votes to keep mask mandate for students, staff

New Bern

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — The debate about masks in schools continued Thursday during the Craven County Schools Board of Education meeting.

The board revisited whether masks would continue to be required in schools. Craven County Schools Superintendent Dr. Wendy Miller made a proposal that the board make masks optional when Craven County sees COVID-19 numbers which would put the county at the moderate risk level for coronavirus transmission.

The county is currently still at the high-risk level, officials said Thursday. That means maks will remain to be required inside school buildings and buses. The county must see its seven-day case average per 100,000 people decrease to 60 cases.

Currently, the average is at 210, according to health officials.

Some parents who were at Thursday’s meeting spoke on why masks should be optional.

“I think masks should be an option,” said Heather McManus. “I feel like if you want to use the mask as protection then that is fantastic, and you should be given that option. But, if you feel like you are protected without the mask and you are comfortable with that and you’ve evaluated the risk benefit, then you should have that option as well.”

Miller said they’re trending in the right direction to make that happen eventually.

“What’s happening is what we all want to be happening, our cases for both staff and students are declining,” Miller said. “This week, a major celebration, for the first time in 18 months, we had a day where we had zero positive COVID cases in Craven County Schools.”

The board decided as soon as the county is in the moderate risk level, they would call a special meeting to make maks optional at that time.

Also, during a work session held before Thursday’s meeting, the board approved visitors back into school buildings and for field trips to resume.

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