ASHEBORO — Students, teachers and staff in the county school system will be required to wear masks inside school buildings starting Monday, August 30. The Randolph County Board of Education met for a special meeting on Sunday and a divided board voted 4-3 to require mask-wearing at all schools. The change comes after one week of in-person classes and marks a change to the board’s policy making masks optional in July.
“We have the rules that we have to follow,” said superintendent Stephen Gainey. “Last week, we sent 530 children home for exposure to 81 cases … universal cloth face coverings, we send only 81 children home.” Gainey later clarified that the 81 total cases was students and staff combined.
“We’re in a situation where kids need to be in school,” said board chair Gary Cook. “If the masks …, if it keeps them in school can we not try that for a few weeks and revisit it and if it works and the numbers come down, we get rid of it.”
Following almost two hours of discussion and debate, the board ultimately voted to require cloth face coverings by all students, staff and visitors when inside school buildings and on buses. The policy won’t require employees to wear masks when in work area alone, including offices or classrooms. Extracurricular activities are also exempt from the mandate. Extracurricular activities — whether they are inside or outside — will be mask-optional for students, staff, parents or spectators.
The new mask rules will be in effect through October 15, 2021.