Johnston County, North Carolina teacher refuses to wear face mask at school



Courtesy of Joe Preston

A Johnston County high school teacher has been sent home for refusing to follow the school district’s requirement to wear a face mask to school.

Aurora Preston, an English teacher at South Johnston High School in Four Oaks, says it should be her constitutional right to wear a face mask. She faces up to nine weeks of unpaid leave and could lose her job due to her decision not to hide on campus.

“It is not the job of government agencies to dictate when and where it is appropriate to use the rights granted to me as a US citizen,” Preston said in a statement Wednesday. “It is their job to uphold the Constitution which grants these rights to all citizens at all times.

“If anyone doesn’t agree with this position, they would be right and it’s wonderful to have that choice to do so.”

The school district said in a statement Wednesday that it would not comment on confidential personnel matters. The statement said the decision to require masks to be worn indoors by students and school employees was based on guidelines from health officials.

The district said employees can request accommodation to the face mask requirement. But Joe Preston, Aurora’s husband, said she would not be eligible for medical accommodation. Even if approved, she would have to wear a face shield as opposed to a face shield.

Health officials recommend face masks

The Johnston County School Board originally voted on July 29 to make face masks optional. But the board voted on Aug. 10 to require the masks – joining more than three dozen North Carolina school districts that have overturned their decision to make the masks optional.

As of Wednesday, 90 of the state’s 115 school districts were requiring face coverings.

Preston had worn a face mask last school year, but now she says she doesn’t think they work to slow the transmission of COVID-19. His Facebook page contains statements such as “I trust my immune system. My body, my choice. Freedom to choose.

Groups such as the state Department of Health and Human Services, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the masks are effective and recommend requiring that they be worn in schools.

Aurora Preston, an English teacher at South Johnston High School, stands in front of her class. She refuses to follow the Johnston County school system’s requirement that face masks be worn in schools. Courtesy of Joe Preston

Preston showed up without a mask last week for a day of teaching work at South Johnston to prepare for the new school year. She was told to stay alone in her classroom for several hours before being sent home.

Nine weeks without pay

Preston’s exact employment status is uncertain. Joe Preston says the district told his wife she was on unpaid leave and that after nine weeks her employment status would be reviewed.

A spokesperson for the school district said Preston was still an active employee, but would not say if she is on unpaid leave.

Preston doesn’t quit. She also does not plan to put on a mask. At the request of friends, Joe Preston said they set up a GoFundme page to collect the $ 6,000 the family could lose while they are on unpaid leave for two months.

“It’s not about the masks,” Joe Preston said in an interview Wednesday. “It’s about government control over individual freedom. This is how we personally feel about it.

“We believe a mandatory vaccine is on the way, which she obviously will not comply with.”

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T. Keung Hui has been covering Kindergarten to Grade 12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school staff, and the community understand the vital role education plays. North Carolina. Its main focus is Wake County, but it also covers education issues statewide.

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