The school board will review its face covering policy at its October meeting.
GASTONIA, NC – The Gaston County Schools School Board has voted 6 to 3 to keep the requirement for students, teachers and staff to wear masks in school buildings.
The vote took place as parents filled the board meeting room and several people spoke to the board in an attempt to influence members’ votes.
“I was excited – I was surprised, but I was excited,” said Fae Pagan, a parent of two students. “I didn’t know what to expect, but the atmosphere didn’t look like things were going to turn out the way we wanted.”
She said there were several people outside the meeting with placards protesting the mask requirement, and several parents and grandparents also spoke out against the warrant.
“Choice should always be available to every citizen of the United States and that includes our children,” Gastonia resident Lisa Rebaglia told the meeting.
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“My grandchildren don’t like the mask on their face,” Rick Gass, a grandfather from Mount Holly, said at the reunion. “They find it hard to learn from them.”
Despite the division, supporters and opponents of the mandate echoed a similar goal: to keep students in classrooms and not revert to virtual learning.
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Pagan thinks the best way to do this is to demand masks.
“My son has a learning delay. It could be virtual, but it’s not better,” Pagan said. “We have to keep the kids in school. Everyone was complaining that they’re virtual, but the masks keep the kids in school.”
Steve Eaton, Gaston County Public Health Director, told the board of directors that the county’s COVID-19 numbers appeared to be leveling off, but remained too high.
Eaton said the number of children in the county with COVID-19 reached its highest level of the year two weeks ago, but was starting to decline.
“It’s an encouraging sign that we are seeing a decrease from last week, but again, it remains extremely high,” Eaton said.
He said that between August 15 and September 15, 2020, around five children tested positive for COVID-19 each day, while in the same period this year, nearly 49 children tested positive. each day.
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According to Eaton, only 25% of Gaston County children aged 12 to 17 received their vaccine, while 38% of all North Carolinians aged 12 to 17 received their vaccine.
The Gaston County School Board will review its mask policy at its meeting on October 18, 2021.