Brunswick County Schools mandates masks for upcoming school year

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SHALLOTTE, NC (WWAY) — The Brunswick County Board of Education has voted to make masks mandatory for all students at the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

The board voted 4-1 in favor of a mask mandate for students in grades K-12. Robin Moffitt cast the dissenting vote.

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Vaccinated staff can choose whether or not they want to wear masks.

Athletes do not have to wear masks when actively playing indoor sports, if they are on a bench they must wear a mask. The same does not apply to outdoor sports.

The board made its decision after hearing from parents on both sides of the issue.

“I feel that parents should decide whether or not their children wear masks to school all day,” said parent Stephanie Hall. “It is a parent’s decision about the health of their children.”

“Parents’ opinions are valid but this is a public health crisis,” said parent Machelle Williams. “And we need to be listening to doctors, physicians, epidemiologists, and those with the CDC.”

The board plans to revisit the issue each month.

The decision comes after Monday’s Board of Education meeting went off the rails, with parents yelling back and forth with board members.

One board member eventually told those in the audience to shut up before eventually kicking everyone out. Parents felt the outburst was unprofessional.

“It’s offensive what happened in there, some of those board members were offensive,” Hall said. “Some of those board members have no skin in the game. Ed Lemon has no children in our school system.”

Board vice-chair Steven Barger says he wished things ended differently.

“I don’t agree with clearing the whole room, I wish that we would have just asked the people who were being loud and talking out of turn to leave,” Barger said. “There’s a lot of people in this room who were here for the right reason.”

Lemon, however, says he doesn’t regret the decision to clear the room or the words he used.

“When people are yelling, disrupting the meeting, I don’t feel bad at all about telling them to shut up,” Lemon said.

You can watch the board meeting here.