Randolph County Board of Education holds meeting about COVID-19

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Tanasia Moss, theCulture Editor

The Randolph County school board voted 4-3 to require all students and staff to wear masks inside school buildings for this upcoming academic school year starting Aug. 30.  The meeting lasted three hours with several board members taking breaks to come to an agreement. The final decision needed to be made quickly as we entered the Fall season.

 

Randolph County superintendent, Dr. Stephen Gainey, announced that all occupants will be required to wear masks in the building and on the school buses to maintain COVID-19 safety regulations. Following the mandate, Gainey shared a video on the county’s Youtube channel to notify the public.

 

At first, board members were divided because some of them believed that wearing masks for a long period of time could stunt a student’s learning abilities.However,  after a short impactful speech by Gainey, several board members were swayed. He wanted to make sure they understood that this was about the staff and students safety.

 

Gainey told the board members that “Starting Monday, elementary students will be going back to classrooms to eat lunch.” 

 

In addition, teachers will not have to wear masks if they are alone in their office or classroom. Although the mandate is set, masks will not be required for people participating in indoor or outdoor extracurricular activities. The school board felt like having the children wearing masks while playing sports could be viewed as extreme especially when they are participating in sports outside. 

 

“Our data is getting worse,” Gainey said. “I don’t want to wear a mask myself but we have to take safety precautions to lower the chances of more people catching COVID-19. With so many students coming back to school it introduces so many new ways of catching this disease.”

 

Gary Cook, the Randolph County School board chair also spoke to WFMyNews2 before the meeting took place. He expressed his concerns for the schools and wanted the public to understand that the school district had to make a tough decision. 

 

“Basically the number of kids quarantining is a lot higher than we want to see during the first week,” Cook said. “My number one priority is keeping kids in school. We have made sure that each teacher is following strict guidelines to keep the students and themselves safe from potentially catching COVID.”

 

In the first week of school for Randolph County schools 300  students and staff have been quarantined or isolated because of COVID-19. Gainey confirmed that the school board plans to continue to make difficult decisions if it means keeping students in school while being safe.