Randolph County Schools becomes fifth district to make masks optional this fall

Randolph joins Harnett, Haywood, Rowan-Salisbury and Union County public school districts

FILE - Kindergarten students wear their masks and are separated by plexiglass during a math lesson at an elementary school. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

RALEIGH — On July 20, the Randolph Record reported that the Randolph County Public Schools board of education had passed a resolution that would make masks optional for the upcoming 2021-22 school year.

As of July 20, Randolph County is the fifth district to pass such a measure, joining Harnett, Haywood, Rowan-Salisbury and Union County public school districts.  Some charter schools and some private schools like Thales Academy have also indicated masking will be optional this fall.

The resolution reads in part, “…that the Randolph County Board of Education has no individual mask mandate. Failure to wear a mask on the property of the Randolph County Board of Education or at a school in the Randolph County School System will not be considered a violation of Board policy or school rules.”

The resolution asl states that “All students, staff, and community members are encouraged to make their own decisions respecting their personal health and to choose whether to wear masks. Any harassment, discrimination, bullying, or intimidation based on any person’s decision to wear or not to wear a mask will not be tolerated.”

North State Journal reached out to the Randolph County Department of Public Health for comment.

“Well, there’s no mask mandate right now. The CDC guidance just recommends unvaccinated individuals to wear a mask,” Randolph County Public Health Director Tara Aker told North State Journal over the phone. “There is no mask mandate though.”

“The current CDC school guidance encourages those that are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask, but again, there’s no requirement,” Aker said. “We would encourage those that are not fully vaccinated to wear a mask but there’s not a mandate.”

Aker acknowledged that the majority of school children are unvaccinated due to the fact no vaccine has been approved for children under the age of 12, but she reiterated there was not a “mask mandate” and that there is a “should” in the CDC’s guidance.

“If you look at the CDC’s guidance, it says “should.” Anyone unvaccinated two or older should wear a mask,” Aker told North State Journal. “We would encourage them to wear a mask and to follow the guidance but there is not a mandate.”

About A.P. Dillon 469 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_