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This is when CMS will consider dropping its mask mandate

Superintendent Earnest Winston said CMS is reviewing multiple COVID-19 metrics in regard to the district's mask mandate for students and staff.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — School districts across North Carolina and South Carolina are taking many different approaches to COVID-19 protocols this year, with some counties dropping their mask mandates for students and staff. 

Avery County voted to once again make masks optional after voting last month to require them for all students from third grade through 12th grade. Lincoln County's board also voted to keep its optional mask policy in place. Alexander County Schools is keeping its mask mandate in place, but district leaders said they will be optional when the three-week average number of cases drops below 20.

Masks are required for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The current mask mandate wasn't on Tuesday's board meeting agenda but that didn't stop parents from asking just how long it will be until students will be able to see each other's faces while in the classroom. 

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Some parents are seeking an end to the mandate and questioning the science behind CMS' decision. 

"You yourselves were talking about metrics," one parent said. "You need to use metrics because you have no metrics to support a mask mandate. The children have a God-given right to breathe."

The mandate is expected to last a while as the positivity rate for Mecklenburg County stands at about 8%, nearly double what the health department says is the threshold that would lead to recommendations for easing restrictions, such as masks in public places. So is there a target end date in sight? 

Superintendent Earnest Winston didn't go that far but did say there are some thresholds the district will consider before any possible changes. 

"We would need to be below, as a county, 5% for the next 30 days, and that is one of the metrics that we are looking at," Winston said. 

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