Masks are optional, Charlotte Mecklenburg schools have few cases



Pupils and teachers of Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools are adjusting to the end of the county mandate for the COVID mask. In other school systems masks were optional for most of the past school year. Photo from Lake Norman High School.

The transition in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools from a mandate of district masks indoors during COVID to leaving masks optional over the past week, officials say. However, some parents were concerned.

Several parents, including school board member Sean Strain, confirmed to The Charlotte Observer that one teacher last week placed opaque “plexiglass privacy partitions” around students ’desks. These partitions, which have since been removed, were delivered to the classroom after the CMS lifted the requirement to permanently wear masks, which occurred after a change in local and state rules and recommendations.

Plastic and plexiglass barriers or partitions became popular in public places, including some schools and restaurants, in 2020, but many health experts have questioned how well they work to stop the virus from spreading. Last year The New York Times and others reported that barriers or screens effectively reduce normal airflow in the room and can cause an even greater accumulation of respiratory droplets, thus increasing the potential risk of virus transmission.

“The issue was resolved as soon as it was raised before the director,” Strain said last week. “The screens are constantly removed and students have the option to wear or not to wear a mask in class.”

Across the CMS, says Eddie Perez, county spokeswoman, “I haven’t heard of any serious issues regarding mask policy.”

The current county average for COVID is less than 5% and only CMS reports four known cases in the school district this week.

Stacy Stags ’father told board members at their meeting last week that she had heard of a case in elementary school where a teacher told all students to take off their masks. Stegs said the teacher was reported to the building administration. CMS representatives did not answer the Observer’s question with the question of whether officials were investigating the incident.

“I’m wearing a mask to protect my children,” Stags told board members. “I’m wearing this mask because COVID isn’t over. And I wear this mask because it’s an inclusive, fair choice. ”

Last week, for the first time in nearly two years at Charlotte-Mecklenburg public schools, children and adults were able to walk without a mask without breaking the rules.

Last month, school board members voted unanimously in favor make masks optional in the CMS facilities starting March 7. Shortly thereafter, the district decided to follow updated CDC instructions and no longer require masks in school buses or minibuses.

Many say they decided to wear a mask indoors. The county says there will be zero tolerance for bullying and harassment of those who do so or not wearing a mask.

“Teachers at West Charlotte (High) were very respectful of students who chose to wear (the mask),” said Milk Thompson student, who decided to continue wearing the mask. “One teacher drew up a seating plan to sit students with peers in masks and vice versa.

“It was great here. Students respect the safety of their peers. ”

Survey on masks

In a recent informal Observer poll., more than 650 people who responded noticed that voluntary camouflage was still taking place around the city. Of these, 28% specifically named schools or universities as places where they continue to see masks.

As the Observer reported last week, more than 60% of the 800 respondents in the poll said they agreed with the abolition of the mandate for masks, with many saying the decision was overdue. But 39% said the mandates should remain in force.

CMS father Lisa O’Brien said 724 days passed between “free smiles at Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools”.

“It’s time to stop talking about masks and shift the focus to the kids behind them,” O’Brien said. “I pray that our children and our community can begin the healing process.”

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Masks are optional, Charlotte Mecklenburg schools have few cases

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