School Board Votes 4-3 On Mask Mandate, Adopts New ‘Test To Stay’ Program

SMITHFIELD – The Johnston County Public School Board voted Tuesday afternoon to continue the mask mandate. Board member Mike Wooten tried to change the policy but the motion failed 4-to-3.

Mr. Wooten said improving metrics were a positive sign and he made a motion to make masks optional for all K-12 students effective immediately.

Board member Ronald Johnson seconded the motion. However, the motion failed 4-to-3, meaning students and staff will still be required to wear masks indoors and on buses.

Vice Chairman Terri Sessoms, Kay Carroll, Al Byrd and Lyn Andrews voted in the majority to continue with mandatory masks. Wooten, Johnson and Chairman Todd Sutton voted unsuccessfully to end the mask mandate.

“I understand the desire to do away with it,” Kay Carroll said. “Lets don’t mess up.”

Al Byrd agreed saying he felt the board was moving “too quickly” to do away with the mandatory mask requirement.

Board member Lyn Andrews said, “It’s not easy. Its not fun. The masks are difficult but what we are doing is difficulty. I can’t see abandoning it right now.”

Test To Stay
Afterwards, the board voted 7-to-0 to approve a new optional Test to Stay program. The program will allow students and staff exposed to COVID in Johnston County Public Schools to remain in the classroom if they test negative, are entirely asymptomatic of COVID-19, wear a mask indoors, and determine the exposure to COVID-19 occurred at school and not in another setting.

The student or staff member will be screened daily for symptoms. They will also be tested on days 1, 3, 5 and 7 post-exposure. If the individual tests positive at anytime, they will be required to quarantine at home.

The Test to Stay program will be optional. Those not wishing to participate can quarantine at home.

Sessoms said it is important to keep students in school and Test to Stay will help meet that goal. “As a school board member I feel we are charged to provide a quality education to children. The vast majority learn best in school and we want to keep them there in school.”



    • Numbers were coming down before the vax mandates and then went up due to the vax. Unmask the children! As well those who vote for masks in school should practice what they preach and not be seen in public without masks!

    • To each their own. No need to YELL your comment because you believe in something different than others do. ITS MORE THAN WOOTEN & JOHNSON who are for parent choice.

    • It’s not a personal choice when it effects others. We have a personal choice to smoke or not. But we can’t in public rooms because then you are making everyone in the room smoke with you regardless if they want it or not. Same with masks. Personal choice when you’re out in the open or alone. But when you go and sit in a class with 20 others in an enclosed area you are now effecting everyone else with your personal choice. It’s not so personal at that point.

      Masks offer some protection to others from you. Not the other way around. They don’t work if I wear mine and you don’t wear yours. Pretty simple. Although not as simplistic as personal choice.

      • False equivalency. There’s actual proof that second hand smoke can cause cancer. Where if you get COVID, you have a 99% survival rate. And masks only offer about a 10% – 15% protection rate according to a study from Canada about two months ago.

        But personal choice should always win against government tyranny.

  2. You’re welcome, America wouldn’t have quoted personal choice, if not for the all volunteer military. We take a oath and stand in obligation to our country. Service above all else, 600k dead in this country, 200k in the Soviet union, well over 1-2 million world wide. If everyone is entitled to their personal choice, we have nothing, civilization ceases to exist. We exist because of our obligation to each other. Our military is an excellent model for this reasoning. In past pandemics and future , we as a global community need to exercise this obligation in order for our children to have a world. I hope and pray we can follow at least one commandment, “love your neighbor as your self” I’m beginning to wonder, do we love ourselves? SFC MERVIN JONES USA RETIRED.

    • I am a vet, and I support personal choice. Freedom is what I served for, death numbers are just that skewed numbers for an agenda. All living things die, fact of life! Come on Merv, you took the bait, snap out of it.

    • The same military that dishonorable discharges war veterans because they refuse the unapproved vaccine? Not sure that’s the excellent model we should follow. Just in case someone misinterprets my statement, Thank you to all that serve our Country.

  3. Can you tax Payers and Parents really believe that $180-K-Carroll actually said in a school board meeting and I quote “lets don’t mess up” dear God can you believe this?

    Todd Sutton and Mike Wooten are hoping they can vote with Ron Johnson knowing the mask are not coming off and you will forget they are liberal progressive liberals before the next election.

  4. If students are required to eat lunch in the same classroom seats without a mask for 36 minutes every day of the week then WHY are they having to wear masks in the same seats for the other 6+ hours a day. By the “data” it only takes 15 minutes to contract COVID. Are they being “exposed” every day at lunch? Answer anyone??

  5. so NOW masks work huh?? And there’s no vaccinated people with covid AGAIN , HUH?? Da*n you just don’t get it.

  6. Personal choice. Masks have been proven ineffective. These are our children not the school’s or State’s or even government’s. They are OUR children. The parent knows their child best. The parents are more than capable of taking care of their children. If the parent wants the child to wear a mask, fine. If not, that’s fine too. This is America, keep that in mind the next time y’all vote on trying to take away the People’s rights. Once again this is America, keep her that way.

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