Following Gov. Roy Cooper’s announcement Wednesday that his updated guidance urges public schools to require kids in grades K-8 to wear face masks indoors when the new term begins, I talked with Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt on my radio show on WPTF.
First, here is what the news release from Cooper’s office says about the toolkit and message to schools (emphasis is mine):
The Toolkit says schools with students in kindergarten through eighth grade should require all children and staff to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Schools with students in 9th through 12th grades should ensure that anyone who isn’t fully vaccinated, including students, wear a mask indoors.
On WPTF, I asked Superintendent Truitt to clarify whether the governor is mandating mask-wearing or recommending it. LISTEN to her answer.
Now we know for sure: it’s up to local officials. That’s big, and to my ear, Gov. Cooper and Dr. Mandy Cohen didn’t make that clear. Now the discussion – in some cases, the fight – shifts to parents and local leaders. Truitt has long been an advocate for local control. During the interview, she made a key point about how different each county could be, meaning that local decisions will reflect local conditions. That could mean that contact tracing is the right tool, not masks. LISTEN.
If a school system decides to require masks, that might be fine for some parents. But if a parent disagrees, does that parent have any recourse? LISTEN.
Bottom line: Parents who want a say in how their kids are treated in the fall in a public school classroom should get engaged now with local officials and other parents.