Johnston County teacher sent home after refusing to wear mask

School Watch

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SMITHFIELD, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina high school teacher has been sent home for refusing to wear a mask as required by her school district.

Aurora Preston, who teaches at South Johnston High School, said she had worn a face mask in the previous school year, but now doesn’t think they’re effective in slowing transmission of COVID-19, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. Preston argues that it should be her constitutional right to decide whether to wear a face mask.

According to the newspaper, Preston showed up maskless last week for a teacher workday to prepare for the new school year. She was told to stay alone in her classroom for several hours before being sent home. Her husband, Joe, said the Johnston County Public Schools system told his wife that she is on leave without pay. After nine weeks, her job status will be reviewed, he said.

The Johnston County school board voted on July 29 to make face masks optional. But the board voted Aug. 10 to require masks — joining more than three dozen North Carolina school districts that reversed their decision to make masks optional.

The school district said in a statement Wednesday that it will not comment on confidential personnel matters.

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