Optional masks in Lenoir County after unanimous vote by school board

LENOIR COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – The Lenoir County school board unanimously voted to make masks optional in its public schools Tuesday.

“The school board decided to go ahead and do what they thought they were going to do all along,” said Patrick Holmes with Lenoir County Public Schools.

However, this decision doesn’t change much for some students.

“Personally, I’m still going to wear a mask. I’m not trying to get sick and stuff,” said Kinston High School sophomore James Koonce.

The motion was brought to the board’s attention by Keith King, chair of the Lenoir County Board of Education.

In its originality, the new policy would take effect on Wednesday. After deliberation, the board decided to amend the motion to take effect immediately.

“If you’re attending a school event tonight, such as a basketball game,” explained Holmes, “you have the option of not wearing or wearing a mask.”

The Lenoir County Board of Education met in Kinston and voted 7-0 in favor of making them optional for students, staff, and visitors.

The school board set a standard of three weeks at case numbers below a one-percent positivity rate.

“The cases dropped dramatically over the last three weeks,” said Holmes. “Three weeks ago we were at 62. Two weeks ago we were at 22. Last week we were at eight. We certainly achieved the under one percent.”

While students in Lenoir County have had the prospect of optional masks on their minds, they are keeping their eyes on the prize.

“We talk about how some schools slip off of wearing a mask, but at Kinston High, we try and stay on the mask so everybody can stay safe and we can play sports,” said Koonce.

Per CDC guidelines, masks are still required on school and activity buses.

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