Will CDC’s recommendation for masks in schools lead to a renewed mandate in central NC classrooms?

COVID-19 and schools

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The CDC now recommends everyone in school buildings wear masks, regardless of vaccination status, as the more contagious delta variant spreads.

Most school districts in central North Carolina said they are reviewing recommendations from the CDC. One big question: will the CDC’s announcement change the guidance Gov. Roy Cooper issued last week?

Duke Infectious disease specialist Dr. Cameron Wolfe supports masking in schools.

“Kids are just not very good at keeping their snot themselves, frankly, so of course they become spreaders of respiratory viruses,” he said.

He and UNC infectious disease specialist Dr. David Wohl both said they’re not seeing more children in the hospital due to the delta variant, but some places are.

“There’s reports from around the world, especially Indonesia lately, that young kids are getting really sick with delta,” Wohl said. “In southwest Missouri, they’ve talked about infants getting really ill in the hospital.”

Even if children don’t end up in the hospital, some develop lasting symptoms. Wolfe said approximately 10 to 30 percent of patients develop long COVID-19. It affects children, as well as adults.

“They don’t have to be in the hospital for them to have a really significant, negative impact of them getting COVID,” he said.

Last week, Cooper strongly recommended masks for everyone in elementary and middle schools, and unvaccinated students and staff in high schools. He did not mandate masks.

“They restored decision making to those ultimately most in tune with their community,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Catherine Truitt. She added that some districts have already chosen to make masks optional.

“It’s more about, do parents want children having to wear a mask when they’re at school, and what I hear every day is, no, they do not,” Truitt said.

“I think that parents should play a role in working with their local boards of education alongside the health dept and superintendent.”

The state health department anticipates providing updates later this week. It’s not clear whether this will change the governor’s recommendation about masks.

As for central North Carolina school boards:

  • Durham Public Schools already announced it will keep masks in place for everyone in school buildings. The board will review this during a work session Aug. 12.
  • Johnston County Schools will meet Thursday to discuss masks in schools.
  • Harnett County will meet Aug. 2.
  • Wake County is reviewing the new guidance and will meet Aug. 3.
  • Franklin County Schools’ Board of Education will review the state’s new COVID-19 guidance at the Aug. 9 meeting.
  • Cumberland County is reviewing the guidance and may have more answers by the end of the week.

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