by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
How and whether students will be going back in the fall is on the mind of every parent, student, teacher, and administrator right now. For children who return to school in person this August, things are likely to look very different. Along with learning how to stand in line and raise their hands, children will likely be learning how to maintain social distance and clean a face mask.
Wake County recently released concepts for social distancing seating arrangements; however, it is unclear how schools will achieve this, as many of the schools in the district are already over capacity.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is requiring schools to “share guidance on how to use, wear, remove and clean” face mask. However, according to an article from the News & Observer’s T. Keung Hui, they are not requiring students wear them in the upcoming school year. Hui reports:
School reopening guidelines released this week by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services say that “wearing cloth face coverings is strongly recommended but not required.”
Without face mask requirements, many students and teachers will likely not go back to schools in the fall. Hui quotes JLF’s Terry Stoops, writing:
Terry Stoops, the vice president of research for the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based research group, said many teachers are upset that face masks aren’t being required.
“The option to wear the mask along with the other recommendations will discourage a lot of teachers from wanting to go back to in-person teaching in the fall,” Stoops said.
DHHS instead is making other recommendations. Hui writes:
In lieu of requiring face masks, the DHHS recommends that schools give high-risk students and staff members the option to work from home when school reopens.