Clergy in Salisbury, Rowan County ask RSS to extend mask requirement to keep kids in school

Published 4:46 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

Editor’s note: The following is a letter from a diverse group of local clergy, including from different denominations, who signed onto a letter encouraging the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education to extend the mask requirement so that students can stay in school.

We, the undersigned clergy of the Salisbury-Rowan community, urge and implore you to extend the mask requirement for all staff, visitors, and students on our school grounds and buses. We appreciate the efforts that you have taken to provide for adequate hand sanitizer and rapid-testing and we ask that you extend that same prudence to mask wearing.

The science is abundantly and overwhelmingly clear — in addition to vaccinations, good hygiene and physical distancing, universal mask wearing helps to slow the spread of this deadly pestilence that is plaguing our people. Our wise and competent Rowan County Health Department can best speak to the importance and efficacy of mask-wearing.

As clergy, it is our obligation to “speak out for those who cannot speak” (Proverbs 31:8) and to “give justice to the weak and the orphan; rescuing the weak and needy” (Psalm 82:3-4). This pandemic is infecting our brothers and sisters at incredibly high rates. Without masks, children will miss time in schools due to the necessary and inevitable quarantines. We pray that these children will not have serious cases of COVID-19, though, inevitably some will; this is a preventable tragedy. The virus will then continue to spread through our community. It will continue to overwhelm our healthcare system. We owe it to these front-line medical workers to do all that we can to slow the spread of this virus.

As St. Paul exhorts us in Galatians that we are to “bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ” (6:2). Masks can certainly feel like a burden at times, but they are a burden borne out of love and concern for one another. How we love one another is the measure by which Jesus tells us we follow him (John 13:35). We know that the way we treat the vulnerable among us is how we treat Jesus himself (Matthew 25:4), and as children are not yet eligible for the vaccine, we must do everything in our power to protect and enable them to stay in school with as few disruptions as possible.

We believe it is our moral duty as a community to make sacrifices and concessions for the good of all. The clear good of all right now is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping our children safely in schools. We pray that you will choose to be a part of this good by extending the mask requirement for Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

Faithfully,

The Rev. Nilous M. Avery, II

The Rev. Timothy Bates

The Rev. Robert Black

The Rev. Olen Bruner

The Rev. Mark Conforti

The Rev. Roy L. Dennis Jr.

The Rev. Bonnie Duckworth

The Rev. Debra Ellison

The Rev. Rick Galloway

The Rev. Carol Hallman

The Rev. Rickey Johnson

The Rev. Randal Kirby

The Rev. Vergel L. Lattimore

The Rev. Gena Long

The Rev. Laura Kate Morrison

The Rev. Joshua Musser Gritter

The Rev. Lara Musser Gritter

The Rev. Anthony Smith

The Rev. Laura Washington

The Rev. Samuel A. Washington

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