WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The New Hanover County Board of Education voted Wednesday to end the district’s mask requirement for students, teachers, and staff beginning on Friday.
“It’s always about the safety of the students,” said Board Member Nelson Beaulieu. “Whether it’s mask on or mask off I think we’re talking about the same thing, which is student safety and what’s best for our kids.”
The decision comes less than 24 hours after another contentious board meeting where groups of parents shouted at members of the board to end the mask mandate.
While plenty of parents and students are happy the masks can come off, others plan to keep them on.
Melissa Blackmon’s daughter Sofie is in the fourth grade and is immunocompromised after undergoing multiple liver transplants as an infant. She is taking the advice of her daughter’s doctors at Duke University Hospital and telling her three children to keep wearing masks in the classroom.
“In our family it just adds another little scary factor because obviously we have to wear them and I think today when I explained it to my daughter she said ‘Great. Everyone’s going to ask me why I’m masked again.”,” Blackmon said.
Blackmon hopes her daughter’s classmates and their parents will take other’s into consideration when deciding whether to wear a mask to school.
“I just wish people would understand that there’s a small amount of those children out there, but they are pretty special and they deserve everything that we can give them to keep them healthy,” said Blackmon.
On the other hand, students like fifth-grader Tanner Flewwellin say they are ready for the mandate to end and see their friends’ full faces again.
“I’d just tell them to take these masks off of us so we can see our friends, and our friends can see us as who we are instead of who we are with masks on our nose and on our face,” Flewwellin said Tuesday .
Meanwhile, other parents hope their students will be willing to keep their masks on for an extra sense of safety.
“I think about the fact that she had eight surgeries total and they wore masks during surgery,” said Blackmon. “So, I guess if we have to trust doctors to wear masks, I believe that they do work and we’re just hopeful that they do. Whether or not some other people believe it, we’re hopeful that they do.”
Blackmon understands why parents and students are ready to get rid of the mask mandate, but believes masks have helped to keep her daughter and the rest of her family healthy through the long course of the pandemic.
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