As COVID19 cases across the state continue to rise, schools in Western North Carolina are reversing course and now requiring masks this upcoming school year.
Henderson County Schools voted to reverse an earlier decision to allow masks to be optional and will now require all students and staff to wear masks when school begins in the coming weeks.
On Monday night, the Swain County Board of Education also reversed an earlier decision and voted that masks will be required for all Swain County Schools.
“Our goal from day one of the pandemic was to be able to get our students into our schools for face-to-face instruction, which we still believe is the best educational opportunity for all of our students,” Swain County Schools said in a release. “At this point, we feel this is the safest course of action to protect the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff.”
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services have asked schools to make masks mandatory, however, there is not currently a mandate in place for students and staff within public schools.
While some districts in North Carolina may make masks optional for the classroom, due to an existing CDC Order, masks will be required for all students who ride school buses to and from school each day.
Jackson County Schools voted to require masks from the beginning, explaining that masks are the best chance to keep students in the classroom for in-person learning, which was a priority.
For Macon County, masks are still currently optional, however, Macon County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Baldwin noted that the mask requirement could change at any moment and the school system will be following the guidance of the public health department.
In Western North Carolina the split between mask requirements and optional mask policies is split.
School Districts requiring masks this fall:
Buncombe County Schools
Cherokee Central Schools
Henderson County Schools
Jackson County Schools
Swain County Schools
Schools Districts allowing masks to be optional:
Clay County Schools
Cherokee County Schools
Graham County Schools
Haywood County Schools
Macon County Schools