Gemale Black: Salisbury-Rowan NAACP encourages RSS to extend mandatory mask requirement

Published 4:59 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

By Gemale Black

The Salisbury-Rowan NAACP is urging the board members for the Rowan-Salisbury School System to take a firm stance regarding masks in the school district.

We have seen from last school year that face masks work to stop the spread of COVID-19. During the called RSS Board of Education meeting on August 18, we received news of an alarming number of students out of school due to quarantine. It is important to note this was also the time during which masks were optional for students, faculty, staff and visitors.

The RSS website states “a board member’s first and greatest concern must be the educational welfare of the students attending the public schools.” We understand that students learn best in a classroom setting. In order to keep students safely in an in-person learning environment, we must follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that everyone in K-12 schools wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

We recommend extending the current mask mandate from two weeks to an additional 45 days. This additional 45 days will allow the collection of data to be gathered, analyzed and a sound decision on next steps to be made by Rowan-Salisbury School System board members.

Personally, I attended the Aug. 18 and Aug. 24 school board meetings and was disappointed during both. During the Aug. 24 meeting, members of the general public entered the Wallace Educational Forum building with face coverings. Once inside, many members removed face coverings and were still allowed to remain inside despite the mask sign at the entrance. If the school board will not enforce the mask policy, why is it in place?

Again, we need for each of you to take a firm stance on pandemic safety measures when inside of school and administration buildings. If the policy is not going to be enforced, then the school board should consider virtual meetings to avoid allowing people to break the mask policy that you all established.

As the metrics continue to trend in the wrong direction, we must prioritize the health and safety of every person who enters our school buildings. We must be prepared to make these challenging adjustments so that students can remain inside of classrooms. We must have a mask mandate policy and enforce it for everyone who enters school and administration buildings.

Gemale Black is president of the Salisbury-Rowan NAACP.