By Nathan Ham
At a board of education meeting on Monday evening, the Watauga County School Board changed course after previously voting to support optional mask-wearing for students and staff. Monday’s vote was unanimous to require all students and staff to wear masks effective immediately.
According to guidance from the school system, athletes are “strongly encouraged” to wear masks during practice, however, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has not adjusted its current optional mask-wearing policy as of now.
At the board’s previous meeting on July 26, a 3-2 vote by the board made mask-wearing optional for students and staff. However, now that the rate of active positive COVID-19 cases nearly tripled from July 30 to August 6 (22 cases to 63 cases), the school board decided to return to required masks in schools.
The new mask requirements in schools returned one day before the Town of Boone’s mask mandate that will go into effect on Tuesday, August 10, at 5 p.m. People must wear face coverings inside any establishment within Boone town limits until further notice.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 52 active COVID-19 cases in Watauga County with 96 people being actively monitored for the virus.