Mandatory or optional masks for students? Here’s what NC school districts are doing

·2 min read

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

  • Alexander County

  • Ashe County

  • Beaufort County

  • Burke County

  • Cabarrus County

  • Kannapolis City

  • Caldwell County

  • Carteret County

  • Clay County

  • Cleveland County

  • Columbus County

  • Whiteville City

  • Davidson County

  • Davie County

  • Gaston County

  • Harnett County

  • Haywood County

  • Henderson County

  • Iredell County

  • Mooresville City

  • Johnston County

  • Lincoln County

  • Madison County

  • McDowell County

  • Moore County

  • Pender County

  • Perquimans County

  • Randolph County

  • Rowan County

  • Sampson County

  • Clinton City

  • Stokes County

  • Swain County

  • Transylvania County

  • Union County

  • Watauga County

  • Wilkes County

North Carolina school districts with mask mandates

  • Alamance County-Burlington City

  • Anson County

  • Craven County

  • Cumberland County

  • Duplin County

  • Durham County

  • Winston-Salem-Forsyth County

  • Gates County

  • Greene County

  • Guilford County

  • Hertford County

  • Hoke County

  • Jackson County

  • Lee County

  • Martin County

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg County

  • Montgomery County

  • Nash County

  • New Hanover County

  • Orange County/Chapel Hill-Carrboro City

  • Elizabeth City/Pasquotank County

  • Robeson County

  • Scotland County

  • Surry County

  • Elkin City

  • Vance County

  • Wake County

  • Wilson County

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