CARTHAGE, N.C. (WNCN) – Moore County school board members needed to be escorted out of Wednesday’s meeting after discussions over masking became contentious.
The board of education voted 4-3 to maintain its mandate requiring face coverings for students and staff. It was the same margin the mandate passed by a month prior.
Public comment lasted for more than an hour. One person had to be escorted out after refusing to put his mask back on. The board said it had heard the concerns prior to the vote.
“Is the school board willing to take the substantial liability risk by doing the job of the health department?” parent Rachel Cohen asked.
“All you want to do is control us and tell us what we can’t do,” another said.
“I’m a do this and suggest everyone in the room do the same,” another man said as he threw out his mask.
Attendees became somewhat hostile Wednesday after the vote to keep the mandate in place. A CBS 17 crew in the meeting heard someone refer to board members as Nazis.
Prior to that, two groups of protesters stood in the driving rain outside the district’s central office in Carthage. The first, smaller gathering was to express support for teachers and the school system. The second, demanded masks be made optional.
“Somebody had to do something to counteract the negativity,” Jackie Sharp-Brown said.
“It’s hard to communicate with kids my age because of the mask,” eighth grader said Peyton Wilson.
According to data from the county and state, cases among children and teenagers are rising. There are six clusters of COVID-19 in local schools. A cluster is defined as five or more infections. More than 350 students in Moore County and about 40 staff members have tested positive.
The superintendent explained he supports revisiting the mask mandate every month.
“I felt it was an accountability feature for my staff and I, that we not just get comfortable with it,” Superintendent Dr. Bob Grimesey said.
The board voted to explore having the county health department, not the school district do contact tracing.
Per state law, they’ll have to vote on the mask mandate again at their meeting next month.
The Moore County Board of Education had been scheduled to revisit its mask mandate the week before, but the meeting was canceled.