Pender County Schools removes mask mandate this fall, parents react

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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Students in Pender County will not be required to wear mask this fall.

In a meeting on Friday morning, the school board passed a resolution to remove the mask mandate starting this fall.

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Students of all ages, teachers, and staff can chose whether to wear a mask.

The school board is encouraging vaccinations, but not requiring them.

Penderlea, which is already in session, will have to continue wearing a mask for another week.

Pender County Schools will still be monitoring symptoms for COVID-19 and will be taking precautions using the Strong Schools NC Public Health Toolkit.

The resolution states, in part, “WHEREAS, on July 21, 2021, Governor Roy Cooper announced that the existing mask mandate for schools contained in Executive Order 220 would expire on July 30, 2021, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released an updated version of the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12) that removed the requirement that North Carolina schools require face coverings or masks indoors;

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Pender County Board of Education will not require face coverings or masks for students or staff beginning July 30, 2021. All student, staff, and community members are encouraged to make their own decisions regarding their personal health in to choosing whether to wear a mask. Harassment, discrimination, bullying or intimidation based on any person’s decision to wear or not wear a face covering or a mask will not be tolerated.

You can listen to the board meeting here. 

Parents are sharing mixed reactions to the decision. Johanna Morgan says she’s glad families get to choose what’s best for them.

“I personally am happy with it,” Morgan said. “I know my kids would wear a mask if they had to, but is that something I wanted for my kids this fall? Absolutely not, simply because everything is open and kids are gathering at their camps and activities not having to wear masks, so to me it was just kind of funny that they had to at school.”

However others, like Samatha Worrell, believe the decision is politically motivated and worry about the repercussions.

“I think that it’s very selfish of the board to put our kids at risk to make a political statement,” Worrell said. “Children are the largest group of unvaccinated people in our state and they should be wearing mask in school. With less than half of eligible people vaccinated in Pender, and the delta variant spreading, I’m afraid this is going to end up very bad for our community. I’m choosing to keep my youngest son home to keep him safe. I’m very disappointed that Governor Cooper did not make mask mandatory for k-8.”