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Updated: Back to School Cautions amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

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by Leyton Ezzell

It’s almost time for the children to go back to school and learn all over again. However, this might have effects that could affect students’ school years. The COVID-19 pandemic has made the last two school years difficult for all students to perform in; most schools, public and private, are forced to go online for a majority of the school year.

Governor Roy Cooper has stated in an update to the public this July some health guidance, “The most important work our state will do next month is getting all our children back into the classrooms safely for in-person learning. That’s the best way for them to learn, and we want their school days to be as close to normal as possible, especially after a year of disruption.”

Governor Cooper released an update for the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit to be more in line with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also known as the CDC, and also to align with the American Academy of Pediatrics. Both agencies encourage masking in order to keep teachers and students safe while the pandemic starts to fade away. The Toolkit suggests that all children in kindergarten all the way to 8th grade wear masks, while 9th through 12th grade will wear masks according to vaccination status, requiring anyone who is not fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors.

*Gov. Cooper and his task force announced today, July 29, the Toolkit guidance had been updated once again and that all students K through 12 grades and teachers should wear masks in schools, but the local school boards are the decision-makers on requiring masks for students and teachers. 

The guidance will be in effect starting July 30th. Local school leaders will be responsible for implementing these new StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit in a partnership with their local health departments. The new version of the Toolkit contains new guidelines for quarantining after being exposed to COVID, distancing, testing, transportation, and cleaning.

“Our board is supporting that kindergarten through 8th grade is optional. For students that want to wear masks are their parents; they are more than welcome.” Said Elizabeth Cole, Executive Director of Emereau: Bladen, in an interview over the phone. “Our vaccinated staff members have the option to wear masks, but we expect our unvaccinated staff to wear masks. The Emereau: Bladen Board of Directors will continue talking about this at its regularly scheduled meeting on August 10th.”

Learn more about the state’s vaccine distribution at myspot.nc.gov (English) or Vacunate.nc.gov (Spanish). Details on the Your Shot at $1 Million Summer Cash Drawing can be found at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/summervaxcash. Use NCDHHS’ online tool Find a Vaccine Location to find a nearby vaccine site. Call the state’s COVID-19 vaccine hotline at 888-675-4567.

 

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