Local physicians, advanced practitioners ask school board to extend mask mandate

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2021

Editor’s note: The following is a letter signed by 16 different local physicians and advanced practitioners advocating for an extension of an existing mask mandate in schools. The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education today is scheduled to hold a called meeting to discuss a potential extension.

We are writing today out of concern for the health and welfare of the children of Rowan County. As doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide medical care to your  students, we share your mission to protect children as they grow and develop. Since the beginning of COVID, children have endured significant change, including lack of a consistent in-person education. We start this school year knowing that many children have lost skills, or never gained them, as an unfortunate consequence of keeping them and others safe from COVID infection. 

However, we now know there is an incredibly effective and simple tool which, when used by everyone, provides our children with excellent protection against COVID: face masks. Mandatory use of face masks for all students and staff has prevented significant school-based outbreaks of Covid across the country and globally. 

We applaud your decision on Aug. 18 to have a temporary mask mandate for Rowan-Salisbury Schools. We request that you consider extending it. We want you to know we absolutely recommend mandatory use of face masks as children return to school, especially given the rapid rise of cases and the fact that only a small percentage of our children are eligible for vaccination. 

We confirm that masks are safe for children to wear. We know that masks help prevent the  spread of COVID-19 when worn by everyone. COVID-19 can cause severe illness in babies, children and teenagers. Even if children have very mild cases of COVID-19, they are at risk of  spreading it to vulnerable family members and friends. Up to 10% of children who have COVID infection go on to have persistent long-term symptoms, which can be debilitating. And even if they do not have any of these alarming outcomes, having a COVID infection or being exposed to means that children (and staff) will miss an extensive amount of school. 

We ask that the Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education vote to require masks in all  Rowan County Schools. It is our recommendation that all children and staff in schools should  wear masks until:

• a vaccine is available for all school-aged children


• “percent positive” population cases in Rowan County declines to less than 5% for two weeks in a row.

Signed by the following local physicians and advanced practitioners:

• Nichole Towns, CPNP, pediatrics, 15 years of experience

• Erron Towns, MD, pediatrics, 17 years of experience

• Lyn Nuse, MD, FAAP, pediatrics, 27 years of experience

• Benjamin Ott, MD, family medicine, 17 years of experience

• Bre Walker, PA-C, family medicine, two years of experience

• Jennifer Hudson, MD, pediatrics, 25 years of experience

• Stephen O’Brien, MD, pediatrics, 26 years of experience

• Bethany South, MD, family medicine, 15 years of experience

• Fran Misner, PT, physical therapy, seven years of experience

• Erin Grey, MD, obstetrics and gynecology, six years of experience

• Matthew Storey, MD, internal medicine-hospitalist, seven years of experience

• Melissa Notemyer, NP, pediatrics, three years of experience

• Mark Lins, MD, pediatrics, 28 years of experience

• Amy Wilson, MD, internal medicine, 17 years of experience

• Danielle Rose, MD, pediatrics, 27 years of experience

• Leighanne Dorton, MD, otolaryngology, 7 years of experience.