The Johnston County Public School Board voted Tuesday evening to make face masks optional. The vote was 6-to-1. Beginning Monday February, 21st, face coverings will be optional for all students, staff and guests in public schools and public school buildings.
The mask optional status will be on a school by school basis depending on the positivity rate at that particular school campus or school office building.
Board member Lyn Andrews made the motion. “All of us want to do what is best for our entire population of students and staff, and in that trying to keep kids and staff in school. In an effort to move forward, through this time of dealing with COVID, which we have dealt with now almost two years, and also with the belief and the desire to keep our students and staff safe and in school, I would like to make a motion that we move to a mask optional status with the following criteria in place.”
The criteria includes monitoring the “percent excluded” by COVID-19 at each campus or school and provide a daily report on the school COVID-19 dashboard on where each school stands.
If a school or campus rises above four percent excluded, that campus will then be required to shift to masks for the next 10 days.
On Day 10 at 5:00pm, the percentage excluded will again be assessed and it will be determined whether or not the campus can return to optional face coverings.
Parents will be notified on Friday, Feb. 18th of the status of their child’s school and whether masks will or will not be required beginning Monday, Feb. 21st.
Board member Mike Wooten stated, “I will say this is a step in the right direction… I would just prefer we have all schools mask optional without percentages, however this is a step in the right direction.”
Wooten asked if the “percent excluded” criteria were in place today, how many schools would be face mask optional. He learned all public school campuses would be mask optional, based on today’s COVID numbers.
Kay Carroll said, “I am with everybody else. I want to get rid of the mask as soon as possible but we are still classified as a red county. The transmission rate is 1,000 per 100,000. The goal is less than 10 per 100,000. We are red. We are flaming red. Positivity rate of 29 and 26 percent based on whatever day it is. A goal of less than five.”
“We’ve stated to the parents and everyone here, our goal is to keep kids in the classroom in front of a teacher. We’ve done a pretty good job at that so far. As somebody who is in health care, yeah I think its getting better, but its getting better because we’ve been doing some smart things… We’re a red county. Transmission is big. Positivity is high… I think we are getting near the end of the race. We’re all getting tired of it. I don’t want us to quit before we finish the race,” Mr. Carroll stated.
Ronald Johnson seconded the motion to make face coverings optional saying, “Its practically versus reality.”
Chairman Todd Sutton, Vice Chair Terri Sessoms, Lyn Andrews, Al Byrd, Ronald Johnson, and Mike Wooten voted to approve the change to optional face coverings effective February 21. Kay Carroll cast the sole vote no.