DARE COUNTY, N.C. (WAVY) — On Monday, thousands of students across North Carolina will head back to school.
Unlike Virginia, the Tar Heel state does not have a mandatory mask requirement, leaving the decision up to local school districts.
Dare County Schools recently decided to make masks optional come Monday, Aug. 23.
The county school board voted a little over two weeks ago to make masks optional and has stuck by that decision after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper urged schools to require face coverings.
Some parents told 10 On Your Side after looking at the new procedures, they’ve been forced to make some tough choices. While many parents praised the school board for deciding not to implement policies outlined in the NC Strong Schools Public Health Toolkit, others said they feel defeated.
“I definitely think the governor should step in and make a mandate,” said Dare County parent Joe O’Grady.
O’Grady has two little girls — one of whom has Down syndrome and is high-risk for COVID-19.
“We haven’t even decided whether they’re going to go back. I’m kind of thinking we might want to wait a week or two to see how things play out,” O’Grady explained.
Heidi Hess has 8-year-old twins and has decided to pull them out of class and homeschool them this fall.
“When we’re not doing every single thing that we can do to keep our kids safe at school, its not a place a feel comfortable sending my kids right now,” Hess stated.
In a 6-1 vote on Aug. 5, the Dare County School Board decided the district will not promote COVID vaccines, will not collect vaccine data from students or staff and will not enforce social distancing on school buses. Dare County Schools is offering a virtual option to K-12 students this semester. If a student enrolls, they must stay in the program all semester.
“Being a pandemic parent is not fun. There’s so many choices, so many decisions that we have to make that we haven’t had to make before,” Hess told 10 On Your Side.
The Dare County school board will re-visit the optional mask policy on Sept. 14.