CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The controversy over masks in Charlotte's Catholic schools continues with some parents claiming these schools are not taking the Mecklenburg County mask mandate seriously.
Last year, Catholic schools across the Charlotte metro area were some of the only ones able to keep kids in class most of the year, requiring masks in the process.
"We know how to do it safely, we just did it," one dad, who wanted to remain anonymous, told WCNC Charlotte. "My question is what’s the change? What changed from late May of last school year to August of this year? If anything, we're in a worse position now because of the delta variant and the variants that will follow behind it."
This year, parents say the superintendent of Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools has been reluctantly enforcing a county-wide mask mandate after the health director pointed out parochial schools were included.
Parents told WCNC Charlotte the superintendent sent an email to parents offering an exemption if they filled out a form. The move is so controversial, the parents said, that they asked WCNC to remain anonymous so their kindergartner wouldn’t face retribution.
They’re not alone in their concerns. The country health department confirms they’ve received 90 complaints about mask usage in private schools.
"It's frustrating," the kindergartner's mother told WCNC. "It was clear they were trying to follow the rules in the most lenient way possible."
A spokesperson for Mecklenburg Area Catholic Schools (MACS) told us they’re following the mask mandate and the proclamation issued by the health department when it comes to not requiring proof for exemptions.
The spokesperson also told WCNC Charlotte so far they’ve seen a low number of cases and quarantines across the Catholic schools. One school closed and went virtual for a week while a handful of classes at other schools in the system have also had to go virtual since the start of school.
"When I heard that, I was like 'Well hat’s frustrating, that’s exactly what I don’t want to happen at our school,'" the child's mother said. "And it doesn’t have to if they would just simply do what they did last year. It worked out so well."
The MACS spokesperson told us thanks to the success last year “they learned a lot about what works in a variety of masking scenarios and that has informed their approach today.” When asked about the more easily spread delta variant now prevalent that was not around last year, the spokesperson did not respond.
WCNC Charlotte tried asking the Mecklenburg County health department for comment about the way exemptions are given, but we have not yet received a response.