The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education on Friday approved universal face coverings in all schools and educational office buildings for the 2021-2022 year, effective immediately.
“This decision aligns with local and state guidance, as well as national guidelines, which address the Delta variants of COVID-19,” said board Chairperson Elyse Dashew.
The board vote followed Superintendent Earnest Winston’s recommendation that face coverings be required indoors at schools.
Here are answers to some basic questions:
Q: Who does the mask requirement apply to?
A: The requirement applies to all students over the age of 2, staff, volunteers and visitors inside CMS facilities and buildings.
Q: Does my child have to wear a mask on the bus or during recess?
A: Masks must be worn on school buses. Face coverings will remain optional outdoors at all school sites.
Q: What happens if my child forgets his/her mask?
A: The school will provide your student with a mask, said Brian Hacker, a CMS media relations specialist.
Q: What are the exemptions to the district’s mask mandate?
A: CMS is following guidance from the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit. According to that toolkit, which was updated Thursday, exceptions to face coverings are people who:
Should not wear a face covering due to any medical or behavioral condition or disability (including, but not limited to, any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious or incapacitated, or is otherwise unable to put on or remove the face covering without assistance);
Is under two (2) years of age;
Is actively eating or drinking;
Is seeking to communicate with someone who is hearing-impaired in a way that requires the mouth to be visible;
Is giving a speech for a broadcast or to an audience;
Is working at home or is in a personal vehicle;
Is temporarily removing his or her face covering to secure government or medical services or for identification purposes;
Would be at risk from wearing a face covering at work, as determined by local, state, or federal regulations or workplace safety guidelines;
Has found that his or her face covering is impeding visibility to operate equipment or a vehicle; or
Is a child whose parent, guardian, or responsible person has been unable to place the face covering safely on the child’s face.
Q: What about students who play sports? Do they have to wear masks while practicing or participating in games, matches or competitions on school grounds?
A: Any student-athlete, coach or staff member who participates in an indoor sport at CMS schools must wear a mask. This mandate extends to teams from other school districts who are playing away games in CMS facilities — those student-athletes must wear masks, as well.
Q: Is this mandate in place for the entire school year?
A: Yes, although the universal face covering requirements will be reviewed by Winston at the end of each academic quarter, or sooner if local metrics and evolving guidance suggest that safety protocols, including using face coverings, should be reviewed.