Masks will be optional in Wayne County Public Schools this coming academic year.
Monday evening, the Wayne County Board of Education debated the latest recommendations for safely returning students to the classroom as the COVID-19 pandemic continues and cases surge in North Carolina.
School board members Jennifer Strickland and Wade Leatham argued the masking decision should be left up to parents.
Meanwhile, school board members Len Henderson and Patricia Burden wanted to make masks a requirement for everyone in the school buildings.
Wayne County Association of Educators President Tiffany Kilgore says making masking only an option may lead to lost face-to-face instructional time.
The first motion to require students and staff in K-12 to wear a mask or face covering failed.
The Board of Education then voted 4-2 and approved making masks optional for students and staff as the 2021-2022 school year begins.
It was clarified the school board can always reconsider that action should COVID trends and guidelines change, and the school board may revisit the topic at its next meeting, if not sooner.