Whiteville City Schools decides COVID-19 protocols for upcoming school year, Columbus County school board to meet

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 4:36 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Whiteville City Schools issued a statement Wednesday recommending all students and staff in K-8 schools “should consistently wear a face covering when indoors.”

Parents are instructed to determine their child or children’s preference for wearing a face mask and notify the teacher by completing an information sheet. Students are then expected to follow through with their choice and parents will be notified should the students who elected to wear face masks fail to comply.

Other guidelines for face coverings include the following:

  • While using school transportation, all students in all grades must wear a face covering.
  • All unvaccinated students and staff members in grades 9-12 should wear a face covering.
  • No face coverings are required during outdoor activities or by students competing in indoor athletic events.

Face coverings will be made available by Whiteville City Schools as needed.

Contact tracing will still be used when a student tests positive for COVID-19 and quarantine may still be required for unmasked or unvaccinated individuals who have been in close proximity with the positive individual.

Columbus County Schools

The Columbus County Board of Education will hold a special meeting on Thursday, July 29, to discuss COVID-19 protocols in its schools for the 2021-22 school year.

The meeting comes amid rising coronavirus case numbers across all 50 states, including North Carolina. According to the CDC, Columbus County is seeing a ‘high’ level of community transmission of the virus.

[New CDC mask recommendations for vaccinated applies to Southeastern North Carolina counties]

New guidelines from the CDC recommend all students, faculty, and staff for grades K-12 wear face coverings in schools regardless of vaccination status.

“During the past year and a half we come to clear understandings regarding masks,” said Dr. Deanne Meadows, superintendent of Columbus County schools. “Masks help prevent the spread of COVID. Masks also impede communication between teachers and students, and can be a significant hindrance to educational progress across all grade levels.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services plans to ease restrictions on masks in schools beginning this Friday. Governor Roy Cooper has said that while masks will not be mandated in schools, they are recommended for children in grades K-8 and unvaccinated high schoolers.

“We have heard many comments from parents on both sides of the argument, indicating to us that our stakeholders are split on the matter,” said Meadows. “The board will consider all possibilities as it decides on the best course of action to balance student safety and student learning.”

Cheyenne Soles kept her son Jordan home from school last year to learn virtually because he has a hard time keeping a mask on his face. As her son prepares to enter fifth grade, Soles wants her and other parents to choose whether or not their child has to wear a mask in the classroom.

“Mask mandate or not, I feel like if they have to wear the mask they are they are not going to be able to focus enough to do their personal best,” said Soles.

The board of education meeting is scheduled for Thursday at 1:00 p.m. at the board of education building in Whiteville.

Copyright 2021 WECT. All rights reserved.