ASHEBORO — The Asheboro City School Board voted to extend mandatory mask-wearing for another month. The School Board voted 6-3 at their August 12 meeting to require masks to start the school year but set the policy to be reviewed at each meeting.
This time the vote was 7-1 in favor of extending the mask mandate. Gidget Kidd was the lone vote against extending the mandatory masks. Archie Priest, Jr. and Ryan Patton, who joined Kidd in supporting a mask-optional start at the August meeting were absent. Art Martinez, who had supported the mask mandate at the August meeting, was absent for Thursday night’s vote to extend the mandate.
Most of North Carolina’s public schools have a mask mandate in place. Only a handful of the 64 North Carolina school districts that originally voted to make masks optional for K-12 students for the upcoming year are still following that policy.
As of Sept. 6, the school districts continuing mask-optional policies are Avery, Camden, Onslow, Polk Union and Yancey counties, as well as Newton-Conover City Schools. There are a total of 115 school districts in the state.
Most of the reversals came after a letter was sent urging mask-optional districts to reverse course despite updates to the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit giving districts the choice of making masks optional. The Asheboro City School Board received the letter just before their August vote. The Randolph County School Board received a similar letter in August before they reversed course and implemented a mask mandate after starting school with masks being a personal choice for teachers and students.
The letter was issued and signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) Secretary Mandy Cohen and State Health Director Dr. Betty Tilson.
Cooper’s letter urged districts to “fully implement” the toolkit and to employ masks despite being a “recommended” option and the final decision left to each district.
The school board will consider their mask rules again at their next meeting on October 14.