State Mask Mandate Lifted: A Desire to See the Same in Schools

February 25, 2022

More+than+60+protestors+lined+up+outside+the+school+board+meeting+to+protest+masks+in+WCPSS+schools.

Noreen Mohamed

More than 60 protestors lined up outside the school board meeting to protest masks in WCPSS schools.

Gov. Roy Cooper’s updated mask recommendations in accordance with metrics from the NCDHHS were repeatedly referenced throughout the Board’s meeting.

As of February 17th, 2022, the Governor suggested that local governments and school counties remove their current mask mandates, given the current decline of COVID-19 infection rates and the wide accessibility to the COVID-19 vaccine within the state. On the same day, the NCDHHS had reported 5,583 COVID-19 cases, a significant decline from the state’s current 2022 peak on January 27th, which was 28,753 cases.

School Board Chairwoman Lindsay Mahaffey noted, “We have been very careful to follow public health guidance. On Thursday, we heard from DHHS that there would be changes.”

Ms. Roxie Cash, another board member, vocalized her views on the mask mandate being lifted as of Tuesday evening with reference to the actions of the entire county.

“The Wake County government has lifted it [the mask mandate] as of Feb. 25th at 5 pm. To mask students in a school while they go to any other place in the county without a mask is not stopping the spread,” included Ms. Cash. “I believe that in school masking should reflect the other areas of where a student goes if controlling spread is the purpose of wearing a mask,” she added.

Many Green Hope students agree with Ms. Cash and believe that since there are already portions of the day when students aren’t wearing their masks, such as lunch, it is ultimately pointless to continue having the mandate.

“Nobody wears the mask properly anyway. People wear it below their noses, and during lunch, people have their masks off while interacting with other people,” noted Madelyn Kouroupas, a freshman at Green Hope.

Cailan Roy, another freshman at Green Hope, added that “By now, the majority of people at Green Hope are vaccinated. I think it’s safer with everyone being vaccinated, and I like how it is optional for students to wear a mask now. No one is forced not to wear one, but by giving people the option, everyone can choose what makes them most comfortable.”

While many individual conversations regarding whether masks should or should not be required remain up in the air, the Board of Education, Green Hope staff, and students agree that this was a major and necessary decision.

“The strong feelings surrounding decisions like masking are also a reminder of the significance of civic engagement since our elected leaders are ultimately tasked with decisions that affect us in this situation and many others,” stated Ms. Mackey.

Ms. Carter emphasized that parent, staff, and student input were taken into high consideration while making the decision, given the magnitude of its impacts.

For many, the significance of the mask-optional policy is that each student and staff member can do what makes them most comfortable and feel the safest. Similar to Cailan’s perspective, Ms. Carter stressed that, “It is ultimately up to Wake County families to make the decision that they feel is best for them.”

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