New Hanover County Schools Board reinstates mask mandate

The New Hanover County School Board has voted to reinstate a mask mandate in schools, effective Thursday
New Hanover County Schools (Photo: WWAY)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The New Hanover County School Board has voted to reinstate a mask mandate in schools, effective Thursday.

The mandate applies inside all school buildings with the exception of active athletic participation.

The board voted 5-2 with Stefanie Adams, Judy Justice, Stephanie Kraybill, Hugh McManus and Stephanie Walker supporting the decision. Pete Wildeboer and Nelson Beaulieu voted against it.

Justice said she was concerned the district would have staffing issues if a mask mandate was not put in place. She believed the spread of Omicron would make positive tests more likely.

At one point, Wildeboer made a motion to suspend the vote until after the county’s Health and Human Services board had a chance to meet. The motion was seconded by Beaulieu. Adams opposed the motion wanting a mask mandate put in effect immediately.

Wildeboer encouraged alternatives to a mask mandate, including making rapid testing available at schools similar to an initiative put in place in Wake County.

In a separate matter, the board voted 5-to-2 in support of holding a hearing to discuss censuring board member Judy Justice. Board Chair Stephanie Kraybill said Justice has been accused of sharing confidential personnel information.

Justice asked if the matter could be resolved in a closed session meeting since it involved private information but it was clarified that hearings such as this must be held in public. That meeting will be held on Friday, January 14, at 3 pm.

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