Pender County Schools votes to keep masks optional, raise pay for substitute teachers

Pender County Schools votes to keep masks optional in schools
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 4:31 PM EST
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BURGAW, N.C. (WECT) - The Pender County School Board voted to keep masks optional in schools at its regular meeting Tuesday evening.

The vote passed unanimously.

“The board has diligently done everything it can to show that we want parents to have the right to make this decision themselves,” said Board Member Ken Smith. “So I’m thankful that our kids have the freedom to choose whether to wear a mask or not.”

The board voted to make masks optional in October 2021 for Pender County students and has stood by that decision since then.

One parent called in ahead of the vote on Tuesday night to thank the board for keeping masks optional. No one at the meeting spoke out against the board’s decision.

“I sleep like a baby at night. I know that you have my kid’s best interest at heart,” said parent Heather Allen. “I’m so thankful that our kids have the freedom to choose whether to wear a mask or not.”

Before the vote, County Health Director Carolyn Moser told the board that, as of Tuesday, 95 students have tested positive for COVID-19. Another 311 students have also been exposed to the virus.

School boards are required to revisit mask policies every month.

Also, pay for substitute teachers was being considered at tonight’s meeting. The board voted unanimously to increase substitute teacher pay to $15 an hour.

According to officials with Pender County Schools, this means that with the increase uncertified teachers would earn $120 per day while certified teachers would earn $144 daily.

“They’ve agreed to go ahead and give all employees a fifteen dollar base,” said Superintendent Dr. Steven Hill. “They’ve done that a half a year ahead of time. So our employees will actually be making up to two or more dollars an hour more than what they would have been making without the board vote tonight.”

Teachers and substitute teachers are in demand in Pender County. Click here to apply for a position with PCS.

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