UPDATE: NHC Board of Education votes to make masks optional in schools, elects new officers

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 4:57 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County Board of Education members voted at a meeting Tuesday evening to make masks optional in all indoor settings beginning Wednesday.

The vote was 4:3 in favor with board chair Stefanie Adams and board members Judy Justice, and Stephanie Walker casting the dissenting votes.

Because transportation is federally regulated, masks will still be required on buses.

An amendment was made to the motion to include a mask requirement around medically-fragile students.

Also, some Pre-K’s are funded by Head Start, which is federally regulated, so people in these facilities must abide by federal regulations and wear masks.

Another motion was made to require masks for non-staff visitors who volunteer in schools.

The motion passed 5:2 with Nelson Beaulieu and Pete Wildeboer casting the dissenting votes.

During discussion before the vote on making masks optional, Adams quoted some interesting statistics.

Currently, in New Hanover County, the 35 positive cases require only 23 students to quarantine. Mask-optional Brunswick County has 75 cases which requires 300 kids to quarantine. Mask-optional Pender County has seven cases that require 40 kids to quarantine.

At that point, Justice responded with concern.

“Both Brunswick and Pender County, which are mask-optional —their numbers are getting big, and they’re a lot smaller counties, a lot less around — I’m concerned about hundreds of kids out of schools if we follow this.”

New officers elected

Later in the meeting, board members elected Stephanie Kraybill as the new board chair and Stephanie Walker as the vice chair for the upcoming year.

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