The Currituck County Board of Education voted unanimously to implement a mandatory mask mandate starting Monday after dozens of students, teachers and staff were required to quarantine due to possible exposure to COVID-19 in the first five days classes.
“While the positive COVID-19 case numbers for the Currituck County Schools remain low, the number of staff and students required to be in quarantine are rising,” according to a statement issued following the emergency meeting held Friday afternoon.
The decision comes after 11 positive cases of COVID-19 were identified in students during the first week of school, leading to more than 140 quarantines that were required under the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.
“Current quarantine guidelines…state that individuals who are not wearing a face covering must quarantine for a minimum of five days, and could be as many as 14 days or more, when identified as a close-contact to a positive COVID-19 case,” the school system said.
Currituck was one of around 30 school systems in the state, including Dare County Schools, that had left masks as optional indoors even as case numbers and hospitalizations have continued to dramatically increase across North Carolina.
“With each positive case, the number of identified, unmasked ‘close contacts’ begins to increase exponentially. Each of those students required to quarantine is missing out on crucial instruction time in the classroom. This also impacts extra-curricular activities and athletics that students are grateful to have access to this school year.”
The new policies include face coverings will be required for staff and students indoors and will continue to be required for staff and students on school buses. Face coverings will not be required outdoors during the school day where social distancing can be maintained.
“These measures will help keep our staff and students in our schools for in-person instruction,” according to the Currituck school board’s statement.
Information has been posted on the Currituck County Schools website regarding the mitigation measures that can be eliminated with the use of face coverings.
“The Currituck Board of Education wants to assure parents that they did hear their concerns. This was a difficult decision and, furthermore, it is important for families to understand by following these guidelines, student quarantines can be significantly reduced, as well as eliminating the need for many restr ictive measures during the course of the school day.”
The Dare County Board of Education has scheduled a meeting for Wednesday to discuss the latest data and possibly update their current polices.