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Masks are back: Officials respond to quick virus spread

By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

Masks are back.

Davie County Schools’  Superintendent Jeff Wallace announced Monday afternoon that students in all grades will be required to wear masks when school starts next week.

The decision by school staff – after consulting with local health officials – was made after the board of education members on July 29 unanimously voted to make masks optional. When making that decision, the numbers of cases had just started to rise, and they also gave Wallace and school staff the authority to make a change should conditions warrant one.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Davie County in early July was less than 10. On Monday, Davie Health and Human Services put the number at 259. And the newest wave is hitting younger people more.

Wallace pointed out that 59 of those recent cases have been among school-aged children, two of whom are in the hospital. With quarantine guidelines, “those numbers could send home multiple classrooms and entire schools.”

He said he recognizes the academic, social and emotional impacts such decisions can have on students, adding that those impacts also grow with quarantines.

Other school districts that have opened with masking optional for students “are having immediate and large-scale quarantines. We do not want the same experience and want to be proactive.”

Wallace said the staff and board of education unanimously support the decision.

There is a form on the school’s website, godavie.com, for exemptions, that basically asks: “Please describe the medical or behavioral condition or disability that prevents the student from wearing a cloth face covering.” It goes on to say that proof may be required, and that the student may have to wear a protective plastic shield.

Figures released Monday show 259 Davie residents currently with COVID-19, six of whom are in the hospital. Of those: 20 are age 65 or older; 52 are age 50-64; 105 are age 25-49; 31 are age 18-24; and 51 are age 17 or younger. Since the pandemic began, 58 Davie residents have died after being diagnosed with coronavirus.