9/27/2021 8:29:00 PM Lincoln Charter & Catawba County Schools Continue Masks
It really matters which mask you choose. While cloth masks help to diminish how far your exhaled breath goes and may protect others from you if you have the virus, they don't do much to protect the wearer. N95 and KN95 masks properly worn (covering both the mouth and nose) are helpful in reducing the likelihood of getting the virus. Area hospitals report that the vast majority of their COVID patients and those in ICUs or on ventilators are unvaccinated. The evidence, while not convincing to many, is overwhelming. Masks (especially the right kind) and vaccinations DO work!
At Monday's Catawba County Board of Education meeting, the board approved a motion to keep the mandated face-covering policy in place until it is reviewed again at the next regular board meeting Oct. 25th.
Lincoln Charter School's board also voted (5-3) to continue requiring masks at least until their next meeting, also on Oct. 24th.
That leaves Lincoln County Schools one of only six school systems in North Carolina in which masks are optional. The 'masks optional' policy officially goes into effect Wednesday (Sept. 29th) based on the motion by Heather Rhyne approved at the Sept. 14th school board meeting, although many students in Lincoln County Schools were already maskless on Monday (Sept. 27th).
During a work session for the Catawba County board Monday morning, Catawba County Public Health director Jennifer McCracken noted the decrease in the district's quarantine and positive case data after the required face-covering policy was adopted. You can see this information on the district's COVID-19 Dashboard that is updated daily.
Since the required mask policy was enacted on September 2nd, the number of staff and student quarantines decreased by 75%. Additionally, the number of positive cases of COVID-19 decreased 65% from a high of 256 to 89 cases Mpnday.
Health Director Davin Madden sent another letter to local schools in Lincoln County last week asking them to reconsider any decision to make masks optional instead of required. The NCDHHS confirmed it was looking into the situation in Lincoln and Union counties after both indicated they would no longer quarantine students exposed to a positive virus case. Union County's school board voted 8-1 to change that policy and continue quarantines for those students exposed to positive cases at school. Lincoln County, which had said any student who had not tested positive for the virus would be required to attend school, says now it will follow the state suggested quarantine policy.
The number of new COVID cases statewide has declined in the last week from what had been reported the previous two weeks during the Fourth Wave surge. On Monday, the NCDHHS reported 2,665 new cases. Hospitalizations, which had swelled to nearly four thousand, were just over three thousand Monday.
Vaccinations with the third so-called 'booster' shot are underway. The number of people who have been vaccinated is increasing. Statewide, 53% of North Carolina's population has now been fully vaccinated (at least two shots of Pfizer or Moderna, one J&J). In Lincoln County, 43% have been fully vaccinated; in Catawba County, 47%; in Gaston & Cleveland, 42%.
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We will continue to report about the pandemic--in the hope that it will come to an end. For now, despite what some critics say, it is important news; and we will continue to cover it and to provide information from reliable, educated and informed sources. To do less would be irresponsible.