North Carolina’s guidelines for the wearing of masks in public schools, as laid out in the StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit (K-12), aligns with CDC recommendations for universal indoor masking in all schools, kindergarten through grade 12.
But ultimately, the enforcement of mask policies has been left up to local school boards.
Most school districts — particularly those in larger urban areas — are keeping a mask mandate for all students (as well as teachers, staff and visitors), but some boards have opted to make masking optional.
In fact, nearly 40 of the 115 total districts have so far said they will allow masks to be optional. All but one of those districts (Watauga) are in rural or “red” areas that voted for Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Not all counties have decided on or announced their mask policy, but we have a look at where things stand right now with local school districts, and also with districts across the state that are making masks optional.
This story will be updated as more school districts make decisions.
Mask policies at Triangle area school districts
▪ Wake, Durham and Orange County school systems, as well as the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system, will adopt the state guidelines and require universal indoor masking in public schools. The Wake and Chapel Hill-Carrboro boards just voted Tuesday night. Durham will start the traditional school year with a mask requirement at all grade levels, spokesman Chip Sudderth said Tuesday. The administration made the decision and will update the school board Aug. 12.
▪ Johnston and Harnett county school systems have voted for optional masking.
▪ Chatham and Franklin counties have not yet decided.
North Carolina school districts with optional masking
North Carolina school districts with mask mandates
Alamance County-Burlington City
New Hanover County
Orange County/Chapel Hill-Carrboro City
Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County