Board Votes to Mandate Masks
Posted on 08/20/2021
At an emergency called board meeting on August 20, the Bladen County Schools Board of Education reversed its optional mask decision made on August 9, 2021. The board voted during the emergency meeting to make masks universally mandatory indoors. We will still consider exemptions to this based on medical or behavioral challenges that would be impacted by a face covering.
Effective August 23, 2021, all staff and students of Bladen County Schools will be required to wear a mask regardless of vaccination status while indoors, except for those with legal exemptions already established by the NCDHHS StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. Additionally and per CDC’s Order, all passengers, including students and staff, will be required to wear a mask on buses, vans, and other group transportation owned by Bladen County Schools.
This action is necessary due to the high level of transmission from the Delta variant of COVID-19 in our community and in an effort to keep students and staff members in school for in-person learning. We all know how important it is for our students to return to in-person learning, five days a week. A universal mask policy will protect the health of our school community, and should also greatly reduce the need to quarantine students named a close contact to a COVID positive case. Per NCDHHS and local health leaders, non-symptomatic students wearing a mask consistently and correctly do not have to automatically quarantine if they are named a close contact. Correct and consistent mask use is a critical step everyone can take to prevent getting and spreading COVID-19 and can assist with contact tracing, which, in many cases, allows students and staff to remain in school and our athletic programs to continue.
We will continue to follow guidance from the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), NCDHHS and the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit in an effort to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.
We will continue to evaluate the rate of transmission in our community over the days and weeks ahead and will be reviewed, at a minimum, during each monthly board meeting in accordance with local COVID19 patterns and metrics.
We are striving to protect the valuable instructional time that our students will receive this year. We are focused on helping our students thrive and excel both academically and socially-emotionally. We look forward to a new school year and working in partnership with our families and community members to achieve this goal.