To mask or not to mask? Students and parents respond to NHCS’s mask mandate

Mother putting a face mask on her daughter (Photo: Pexels)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — With New Hanover County Schools deciding to keep it’s mask mandate in place, many families are either outraged, confused, or relieved. Though some students are relieved to keep the mask on, other parents say their kids are gasping for air and change.

Mother of five Jane Blackwell said she was frustrated with Monday night’s decision, especially after New Hanover County lifted theirs.

“Sleepovers are happening and get togethers and birthday parties are happening,” Blackwell said, “and nobody is wearing their mask at these events. And if we’re not wearing them out in the public, then I guess, what’s the point of wearing them in schools?”

Other students, like freshman Howell Wood are unconcerned.

According to Wood, “Honestly I don’t really care. I don’t really know why people are making a big deal out of it. Me personally, it’s not that annoying to wear, it’s not that hard to breathe out of.”

Some students, like Hoggard senior Grace Kromke said they were grateful. Kromke has several friends and family members at risk.

“I’m actually really glad they kept it,” Grace said. “I was really scared it was going to spread a lot easier in that more people would end up getting sick and not just from COVID, but like flu, common cold.”

But to first grader Michael Hamlett, the choice is a little simpler.

Hamlett: “Cause I just want to breathe.”
Reporter: “Is it hard to breathe with a mask?”
Hamlett: “Uh huh.”

Hamlett’s mother, Maria said she was hopeful when New Hanover County lifted their mandate. She was disappointed when the Board of Education kept theirs in place and wished they’d provide more clarification for their decision.

“There’s parents that don’t want their kids to wear a face mask and theirs parents that do. I just think as a mom and as a parent, you should have that ultimate say, not the government,” she said.

With the school district divided, New Hanover County Board of Education will take their next vote on masks December 7th. We asked you on WWAY’s social media platforms whether you support the school district’s decision to keep the mask mandate in place. 45 percent of voters said yes, while 55 percent said no.

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