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Board: Masks to be optional for Columbus County Schools students except on school buses

Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Masks will be optional for Columbus County Schools students except when they are on school buses, the Columbus County Board of Education decided Thursday.

The board also made the following decisions on COVID-19 protocols during Thursday’s meeting:

  • Maintaining a minimum distance of three feet as much as possible
  • Following the same sanitation protocols as last year
  • Opting into state COVID testing program
  • Partnering with health department to offer vaccine clinics at high schools
  • Following StrongSchoolsNC Public Health toolkit requirements as of now.

The board said it will adjust its protocols to follow any changes made in Gov. Roy Cooper’s Executive Orders.

“We will make adjustments, as we have over the last 18 months. Every time something new happens we will come back and try to make adjustments based on what the requirements are,” said Dr. Deanne Meadows, superintendent of Columbus County schools.

Board member Ronnie Strickland says he is glad to give families the option over whether or not their students need to wear a mask in the classroom this year.

“I’ve been vaccinated so I don’t wear a mask in my general public life,” said Strickland. “But I travel a lot with work and, you know, I have to have a mask on from the time I walk in the door of an airport to the time I walk out of the next airport and it’s a struggle sometimes.”

Strickland says he’s focused on making sure students’ mental health and well-being is protected, above all else.

“The last thing I want to do is have a child ridiculed because of a decision that they or their parents make for them,” said Strickland. “It’s not our place in the schools or another child’s place to bully that child into their way of thinking.”

Schools in the district will have masks available for students and staff members who want or need one but do not bring one with them.

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