Less than two weeks after voting to allow parental choice this school year on masks in Johnston County Public Schools, the Board of Education reversed that decision tonight (Tuesday) in a split vote. Students will now be required to wear face masks in all K-12 public schools.
The decision was made in part following a new report from the Johnston County Public Health Department that 14.1 percent of all patients being tested are COVID-19 positive.
School board member Kay Carroll, who made the motion for the mask mandate tonight, said, “What we’ve seen with schools that have already taken in, and the number of quarantines they’ve already experienced, and the fact that I think 80 percent of the cases now are the new Delta variant (inaudible) that we mandate masks K-12 in the school system so we can give the system, the students, the teachers and our staff the best opportunity to give them a normal school semester at least.”
Board Vice Chair Terri Sessoms seconded the motion saying, “We are now at 14.1 percent. That is the same level where we were in December when the Health Department urged us to shut the schools down. And I don’t know of any families that want schools shut down again.”
Lyn Andrews who voted for parental choice July 29th, switched her position and voted tonight for mandatory masking.
“We cannot control the rules for the students who test positive. That is what my main emphasis is. We have no control over what they tell us has to happen when kids test positive. If we had some control over it we might do something different but we can’t change it. We can’t not quarantine kids. And understand we do not have remote learning,” Andrews said just prior to the split vote.
“And I tell you all, I am going to lose sleep if I see a student, and we will… If I see a kid, he goes home August 25th, that’s the third day of school, he gets sent home for 10 days. He has nothing but a packet of work to take home with him. He comes back 10 days later, he gets exposed again, he’s going home for another 10 days. How in the world are we going to increase academic achievement if we can’t keep our kids in school? I don’t like the protocol. I don’t like the rules but we have to go by them.”
Board members Kay Carroll, Al Byrd, Terri Sessoms and Lyn Andrews voted for mandatory masking.
Board members Ronald Johnson, Chairman Todd Sutton and Mike Wooten voted against. The mask mandate passed 4-to-3.