Face mask decisions left to local North Carolina schools in House bill – Washington Daily News
RALEIGH (AP) – Local school leaders – not state officials – would decide for next school year whether students and workers in K-12 schools should wear face coverings to protect themselves from COVID -19 in the legislation approved by the House on Wednesday.
Governor Roy Cooper’s current executive order and guidelines from state health officials require most people to wear face coverings indoors in both public and private schools. Currently, people aged 12 and over can receive COVID-19 vaccines.
The bill, approved 66-44 and presented to the Senate, would give local school boards and non-public school leaders “exclusive authority” to decide on face covering. A local school board is expected to vote by August 1 on a face covering mandate for the first month of the school year. And districts that require masks during the year should also vote monthly on continuing the policy.
Cooper would still have the power to issue orders requiring masks in individual schools to reduce transmissions. But the measure marks another effort by Republicans to reduce the Democratic governor’s influence over the state’s response to the coronavirus.
Rep. David Willis, a Union County Republican who heads the bill, introduced the measure as a way to restore the confidence of students who have felt isolated from their friends and teachers since the pandemic, which included periods virtual classrooms and social distancing. But
Democratic Representative Susan Fisher of Buncombe County said now was not the right time to change decision making on masks with a COVID-19 variant that spreads more easily on the surface.