Pitt County school board votes to reinstate mask mandate, discusses books assigned to middle schoolers

PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – The Pitt County Board of Education voted 6-2 in favor of reinstating their mask mandate, effective Tuesday, Jan. 4th.

Pitt County Public Health Director Dr. John Silvernail made a recommendation to the school board to adopt the mask mandate.

Also debated at the board meeting was the issuing of certain books to students in the school district.

In recent days, some parents of students at Ayden Middle School criticized teachers and administrators for assigning the book All American Boys to students. The parents are upset because the book contains profanities and themes they believe are not suited for students as young as middle school age.

School board member Benjie Forrest also objected to the book being assigned due to the profanities within it.

It was made clear at the meeting that the book cannot be checked out at the school’s library; only the teacher had access.

Meredith Hill, Pitt County Schools media specialist, noted that the teacher made clear any students who did not feel comfortable reading the book could be assigned a different one, in this case, Darkness Before Dawn. Forged by Fire is another book that some parents objected to their kids reading without their supervision.

However, some parents were also unhappy with this book because they said it contained themes of suicide, pedophilia, rape, and drug use, which they feel are too mature for middle schoolers.

Hill said that while some students may not be familiar with themes such as these, other students are, and the teacher choosing All American Boys as the assignment was a way to engage students who were not reading.

She added that labeling books involving mature issues as objectionable could be seen as also labeling students dealing with those issues as objectionable.

The school board decided to hold a special meeting on Monday, Jan. 17th to make a final determination on the use of the books in Pitt County schools. The meeting will be open to the public.

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