House Bill blocking COVID vaccine requirements for K-12 students drops provision on masking

FILE - Students line up to enter Christa McAuliffe School in Jersey City, N.J., April 29, 2021. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will end a statewide mask mandate to protect against COVID-19 in schools and child care centers, his office said Monday, Feb 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

RALEIGH — A House bill seeking to prohibit requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for K-12 students in North Carolina has dropped a key provision on masking in schools. 

House Bill 98, titled the “Medical Freedom Act,” was filed in mid-February by Rep. Brian Biggs (R-Randolph) and co-sponsored by Reps. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford), Neal Jackson (R-Moore), and Donny Lambeth (R-Forsyth). 

The original language in the bill stated, “governing bodies of public school units shall not adopt any policies regarding the use of face coverings.” That provision was removed in a Mar. 21 preferred committee substitute version of the bill. 

The bill would prohibit any state and local government agency or political subdivision of the state from issuing COVID-19 requirements or requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination records of any person. The measure would also block state and local governments from placing vaccine requirements on private citizens and public employees. The bill also bans state and local government agencies or political subdivisions of the State from discriminating against a person’s refusal to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submit to a COVID-19 vaccination when seeking employment. 

The companion bill, Senate Bill 121, still retains the masking language but has not seen movement since being sent to the Rules and Operations of the Senate Committee on Feb. 20. 

A second House bill is also seeking to curb requiring the COVID vaccine for K-12 students but is taking aim at the NC Commission for Public Health (NCCPH), an independent rulemaking body housed under and supported administratively and the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services. (NCDHHS).   

House Bill 222, “CV19 Vaccine Mandates for NC Students,” was filed on Mar. 1 and would prohibit the NCCPH from requiring students to have a COVID-19 vaccination “for any reason.” The measure also bars state and local health officials from requiring students to have the vaccination.  There is no masking language in the measure. 

About A.P. Dillon 1287 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_