WILMINGTON — The aims of the mask-wearing mandate are to keep the children safer and to help keep them in school for in-person instruction and other activities, said the Wilmington City Schools (WCS) superintendent when the action was taken.
School board members, administrators and staff all would love to be without masks, remarked WCS Supt. Mindy McCarty-Stewart at Monday’s board of education meeting where the board voted in support of a mask order.
“I would love to be talking to you this evening without trying to yell through a mask,” McCarty-Stewart added.
School officials know it’s a decision that will be met “with some consternation,” she said. The school board voted 4-0, as reported in Tuesday’s edition, to approve the superintendent’s recommendation.
It is in respect to the community’s best interests that the board is working, said McCarty-Stewart.
School officials are asking that families help with the mask compliance, “and to stay unified as Hurricane Strong,” she said.
The school district will revisit the matter “and look where we are at in October,” promised the superintendent.
The mask mandate will be revisited before the end of the district’s first grading period, she said. The end of the grading period is Friday, Oct. 15.
She repeated that all school officials hope the mask mandate can be short in duration. After they looked at the latest school and county COVID data, they knew they needed to try to do what they could to keep local children in school, she explained.
The Clinton County health commissioner supports the decision, the superintendent said in an interview after the board meeting.
McCarty-Stewart is optimistic the transition back to a mask mandate — the one last school year was out of Columbus — will be a pretty smooth one.
She bases her optimism on what she described as great compliance overall last year, and on the fact that this school year there were a lot of students already choosing to wear a mask prior to the board’s decision.
She thinks the WCS staff found creative ways to safely provide mask breaks last year.
Exceptions to the mask mandate, like last year, include when a child has a documented sensory issue or disability that prevents them from safely wearing a mask.
Disposable masks will be available at each school and on buses for students who forget to bring their own.
Residents can keep informed by consulting a weekly COVID-19 Dashboard on Monday mornings when new cases and new quarantines that were reported during the previous Monday through Sunday will be posted. The dashboard is on the school district’s website at www.wilmingtoncityschools.com .