CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg School leaders voted Friday to require students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings indoors for the 2021-2022 school year.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education voted 8-1 in favor of masks at an emergency meeting Friday after many districts in the area elected to make masks optional.
Under the CMS guidelines, all students, staff, volunteers and visitors must wear masks inside school facilities. Masks will be optional outside.
The policy will be reviewed at the end of each academic quarter, or when local metrics and guidance say that safety measures could be revised.
CMS Superintendent Earnest Wilson Winston cited the rapidly spreading Delta variant as a factor in his recommendation to require masks because of its effect on those who are unvaccinated, including young people.
NCDHHS said only 35 percent of Mecklenburg County residents between the ages of 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated. Only children 12 and older are currently eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“With not everyone eligible to be vaccinated and relatively low vaccination rates among those ages 12-17, using a face covering indoors remains an important safety measure to prevent the spread of the unique and highly transmissible Delta variant.”
CMS leaders also said the increase in the positivity rate in Mecklenburg County was a factor in their decision. The positivity rate rose from 1.9% on June 11 to 10.9% on July 30.
North Carolina does not allow school districts to offer remote learning for students if they are exposed and required to quarantine.
Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommended face coverings be required at schools for anyone ages 2 and older.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper echoed the AAP’s recommendation, urging school districts to require face coverings indoors for all K-8 students and staff.
Students are scheduled to return to school on August 25.