North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced updates to recommendations for masks in schools on Wednesday.
He said a milestone has been met in the state as 60% of residents 18 and over have gotten at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The current Executive Order in N.C., expires at the end of the month and Cooper said that eliminates a statewide mask mandate.
He said the most important work the state will do is getting all students back in class for in person learning and added officials want school days to be as close to normal as possible.
Dr. Mandy Cohen gave details on direction that is now given for schools statewide.
A public health toolkit was released Wednesday. As just 24% of N.C. residents aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated and since children under 12 years old can’t get it, schools need to use the safety guidance in the toolkit, she said.
Cohen said all schools Kindergarten – 8th grade should require all children and staff to wear masks inside regardless of vaccination status.
For grades 9-12, anyone who is not fully vaccinated, including students, should wear a mask indoors.
Cohen added that quarantine guidance has also been updated. Anyone who is fully vaccinated with no symptoms does not have to quarantine after close contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Additionally, unvaccinated students don’t have to quarantine if they were consistently wearing masks when exposed to someone who tests positive.
Social distancing has also been lessened to three feet between people when possible.
Testing efforts will continue and transportation, cleaning and other guidance is also included in the toolkit.
While taking questions, when Cooper was asked about enforcement for masks in schools he was told some local areas have already said they won’t enforce masks in schools. Cooper said there will be a big push to make sure everyone is adhering to the toolkit guidance but gave little clarity on what would happen if the guidance was not followed.
On Wednesday, Virginia also released guidance for schools when it comes to masks. Northam said that the Public Health Order, set to expire July 25, will not be extended, giving school divisions the ability to implement local mask policies based on community level conditions and public health recommendations.