RSS ends mask requirement on buses

Published 6:21 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2022

SALISBURY – The Rowan-Salisbury Schools Board of Education ended its mask requirement for students on buses Monday evening.

The district maintained the policy to require masks on buses because of a federal requirement for masks on public transportation. The district has been mask-optional in buildings since October.

Since the precipitous decline of new COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations began in February, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state began loosening requirements for schools. Quarantine procedures have changed several times and school districts are no longer required to perform contact tracing.

The board is required to revisit its mask policy each month by state law. The item was placed on the meeting’s consent agenda on Monday, but moved off for discussion about the transportation issue.

Chief Student Services Officer April Kuhn told the board the administration discontinued masks because of new guidance from the CDC and improving conditions.

“We wanted to bring it to light to make sure everyone knew exactly what we were doing,” Board Chair Dean Hunter said.

The board approved the measure unanimously. There were 1,231 new cases of COVID-19 reported in North Carolina on Tuesday, down from 8,757 a month ago.

In other agenda items:

• The board approved a calendar with Saturday, May 27, as the graduation date. The board asked administration to gather information on preferences of staff and parents for a graduation date and present the results so it could make a decision.

Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Smith said the district recommended the Saturday date because it was the preference of parents and it is intended as a special day for graduating students and their families. The Saturday option was voted for most by parents, but not by staff.

Board member Brian Hightower, a teacher for Iredell-Statesville Schools, pushed back slightly, noting the teacher preferences were split between Thursday and Friday.

Board member Jean Kennedy said Saturday was more convenient for family to attend from out of town.

• The board received an update on summer learning that will take place in June. Elementary, middle and high school students who score below a certain level on standardized tests will be invited to participate in summer learning camps for core subject areas including English, math and science.

Transportation and meals will be provided to students. High school students will be given opportunities to recover credits as well. Student days will also include science and problem-based learning exercises. Students will be able to retake end-of-grade tests at the end of the summer session.

The district will also offer its Horizons Unlimited science camps, camps for academically gifted students, pre-k camps for exceptional children and career and technical education camps.

• The board approved an easement with Duke Energy for the installation of a new utility pole on the corner of the Mt. Ulla Elementary School property. The project is part of infrastructure upgrades Duke is completing in the area.

Chief Operations Officer Anthony Vann told the board the work will be performed outside of school hours and the agreement has additions made by the board’s attorney, including not allowing sex offenders on school property per state law.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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