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'Reconsider and make them mandatory': Cooper sends letter to schools pushing mask mandates

"The science is clear that children learn better when they attend school in person and science is also clear that masks reduce COVID infections," the letter says.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and some of the state's top health officials sent a letter to school districts that have failed to adopt the state's StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit, urging them to require masks for students and staff, regardless of vaccination status. 

"The science is clear that children learn better when they attend school in person and the science is also clear that masks reduce COVID infections so we can keep them there," Cooper said. "The delta variant is moving fast and I strongly urge school leaders who have made masks optional to reconsider and make them mandatory."

Several districts in the Charlotte area, including Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Anson County Schools, Mooresville Graded School District and Watauga County Schools, will require masks this year. Cooper said earlier this month that he wasn't going to issue a mask mandate because "everybody knows what to do."

RELATED: LIST: K-12 schools in Charlotte-area districts mask, vaccine and remote learning decisions

Cooper sent the letter in conjunction with NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen and Dr. Elizabeth Tilson, the North Carolina health director. It outlines the rapid spread of COVID-19 and stresses the importance of masks for children who are too young to be vaccinated. Currently, only children 12 and older are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

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"The highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly through North Carolina," Tilson said. "A layered approach to prevention, including universal masking, helps protect the health and well-being of students and staff and helps keep everyone in school — teaching, learning and thriving."

Click here to read the full letter.

On Friday, NCDHHS reported 6,628 new COVID-19 infections. Currently, 2,483 people are hospitalized statewide with the virus. NCDHHS data says 58% of adults are fully vaccinated, while 63% have taken at least one dose of the vaccine. 

RELATED: VERIFY: NC parents can sue another parent if their child spreads COVID-19 and is not wearing a mask

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