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NC Schools will vote on mask policies monthly; 114 districts mandate face coverings

School districts across North Carolina are reaffirming their mask mandates monthly, as required by a new North Carolina Law that was signed on August 30. 

Senator Bill 654 includes various COVID19 provisions for schools to follow this school year including a requirement that all school districts must re-evaluate and vote on mask policies at least once a month, a provision which was added late in the legislation process. 

As of September 15, all but two counties in North Carolina have some form of a mask requirement for either students or staff with Union and Yancey Counties being the only two counties keeping masks as optional currently. 

Swain County voted earlier this week to continue with the current mask policy, which mandates masks be worn by students and staff within school buildings. Other school districts across the state such as Henderson County and Johnston County also voted this week to extend their respective district’s mask requirements. 

Based on the most recent information available for the state, 114 of the state’s 116 school districts now require masks for students this Fall. 

Harnett County Schools met this week and voted that masks will become optional again on October 5. Harnett County is currently reporting two active ongoing COVID19 clusters. Last week, there were 200 reported coronavirus cases within the school district and 1,400 people in quarantine. Two athletic teams in Harnett County are also in quarantine after players tested positive for the virus.

Board members said recent coronavirus case numbers, how there seemed to be a downward trend in cases, ability for virtual learning and quarantine time being down because of PRC testing contributed to the decision to make masks optional.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services made the decision late this summer to not mandate masks for schools across the state, however, they did strongly recommend that districts make the decision for their respective schools. 

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services updates data regarding clusters and outbreaks across the state every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Last week, the NCDHSS reported 125 clusters in K-12 classrooms across 45 NC Counties. This week, NCDHHS is reporting 194 clusters across 57 counties — an increase of 69 new clusters and 12 new counties this week. 

COVID-19 infections have risen “exponentially” among children in the US since July, according to data published Monday by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

The group reported 243,373 new cases among kids over the past week. While this is a decline from last week, when 251,781 cases were reported, it’s about a 240% increase since early July, when kids accounted for 71,726 cases.

“After declining in early summer, child cases have increased exponentially with nearly 500,000 cases in the past two weeks,” AAP said in a statement.

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