Parents and teachers divided on optional mask policy in Cabarrus County

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CABARRUS COUNTY, NC (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – After dueling protests from those for and opposed to mask mandates in Cabarrus County Schools, the Cabarrus Health Alliance recommended Monday night that all students and staff wear masks in schools.

“If we want kids in school, keeping them there safely, we need to have them wear masks,” said Public Health Director Dr. Bonnie Coyle.

“Because then we won’t have to isolate them. We won’t have to quarantine them.”

The school board voted earlier this summer to make masks optional for students and staff when the school year starts in two weeks.

Masks will still be required on buses.

Before the meeting, members of the North Carolina Association of Educators held a rally and press conference calling for masks to be mandatory.

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Large development with school and housing proposed near Ardrey Kell HS

“This virus knows no age group. And our students who cannot be vaccinated are vulnerable to contracting and spreading COVID-19,” said Deidra Cantrell, a teacher at Northwest Cabarrus Middle School.

Michelle Rengert, who works in Student Services at Jay M. Robinson High School, said she wants to have a more consistent school year this year compared to last year.

“Sometimes we were face-to-face. Sometimes we were virtual. Sometimes we were hybrid. We just think that masking will help us stay more consistent,” Rengert said.

Those in support of the mask mandate point to schools like Union Academy Charter School which reversed its optional mask policy after more than 150 students were forced to quarantine after a COVID-19 outbreak.

If masking had been required at that school, only a handful would have had to quarantine.

Dozens of parents spoke out for and against masks in schools.

While teachers were protesting on one end of the school board’s parking lot, a group of community members was on the other end calling for masks to be optional.

“If these people with these mandates would stop what they’re doing, let us live our lives like we want to do it,” said Steve Wilson.

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