Masks required in schools at least until February: Supt. will help keep quarantines down
Published 10:01 am Thursday, January 13, 2022
By Mike Barnhardt
Davie County Schools students and staff will remain in masks until at least Feb. 2.
The decision was made last week by members of the Davie Board of Education, who approved the change on a 5-2 vote, with Wendy Horne and Lori Smith opposing the motion by Dub Potts.
Horne said her opposition was based on what the schools had already told parents – that the situation would be evaulated and a decision made in mid-January. “I want us to do what we said we were going to do,” she said.
Smith said she’ll oppose any requirements for masks going forward.
Potts said because state law requires the board must make the decision monthly, it would be best to wait until that month’s regular meeting date rather than leave the superintendent hanging on a limb to make a decision about masking in between those times.
The vote came after lengthy discussions.
“Covid is not going away, so we have got to live with it,” Smith said. “I personally think the masks aren’t very effective and according to a local doctor … cloth masks are basically just for showing at this point.
“I’m going to vote masks optional from here on out. It’s our job as a school board to educate our kids, and we’re kind of getting out of our lane. We’ve got to educate our kids and keep them in the classroom.”
Horne said that students are not getting “real sick” and need to be in school. “Right now, we’re not making the rules,” she said. “It’s about how can we can help kids stay in school.”
The reduction in quarantine requirements from 10 days to five days is a step in the right direction, said superintendent, Jeff Wallace.
“It’s not a matter of if we agree that masking works,” Wallace said. “That’s not a debate tonight.”
With current protocols, masking will help keep more kids in school, Wallace said. For example: if a student comes face to face with another student and one contracts Covid, there is no quarantine for the non-Covid if both are masked.
“We don’t like masks, but we have to do everything we need to do to keep kids in school. Healthy kids need to be in the classroom,” Wallace said.
He added that while Covid numbers are spiking rapidly, experts think they will eventually decline just as rapidly.
Board member David Carroll said the board has done a good job of making decisions based on what’s happening. Masks were made optional when cases were low; they are mandated now because case numbers are high and the likelihood of student quarantines are also higher.
“I admire this board. You’ve tried to make judicious decisions based on what we know, not what we would love to know.”
Board member Cammie Webb said they need to look at the bigger picture, that the healthcare system is overburdened with Covid patients. “We owe it to our medical professionals. We need to be proactive.”
Horne, acting as chair in the absence of the chair, Clint Junker, thanked the members for the discussion.
“I appreciate the respectful conversation and I think it shows we just don’t rubber stamp everything.”