NC governor says schools should require masks for K-8 teachers, students

NC governor says schools should require masks for K-8 teachers, students
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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) on Wednesday said that schools should require masks for K-8 teachers and students.

Cooper on Wednesday unveiled new COVID-19 guidance for schools, called StrongSchoolsNC, as schools prepare to return to in-person instruction in the fall.

“The guidance in the toolkit strongly states that schools would require masks indoors for everyone, students and teachers, in kindergarten through eighth grade,” Cooper said in a news conference.

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“Studies have shown that masks can slow the spread of this virus among those who hare unvaccinated. That hasn’t changed. We know masks work,” he continued.

Under the guidance, K-8 schools should “make masks universally required … given that all or most of the student population in the grades are not yet eligible for vaccination.

The guidance also suggests that schools ensure that face coverings are worn indoors for those who are not fully vaccinated, including students in 9th-12th grades.

Elaborating on the guidance, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen said that only 24 percent of the state’s population ages 12-17 has been fully vaccinated, and students under 12 are not yet eligible for vaccinations.

“With only 24 percent of North Carolinians ages 12-17 fully vaccinated, and because anyone under the age of 12 cannot be vaccinated yet, we still have a long way to go,” Cohen said. “Schools need to use the additional safety protocols outlined in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit as we enter the new school year.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) administration recommended students and adults wear masks in schools, but stopped short of requiring them.