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School leaders credit masking with keeping more kids learning in person

Doctors say layers of protection are necessary but masking is key with the rapid spread of omicron.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — As COVID-19 and more specifically the omicron variant spreads quickly, school districts and health leaders are doing everything they can to keep the classroom a safe space so that students can continue to learn in person.

A big piece of that is ensuring students and staff have masks. Doctors say masking is a critical form of protection with how contagious omicron is, especially in the classroom.

“At this point, masking is still a very important tool that we can use to prevent spread,” Dr. Amina Ahmed, a pediatric infectious disease specialist with Atrium Health said.

Atrium Health donated 150,000 KN95 masks to CMS teachers to help.

PPE is what CMS leaders credit for a so-far successful and safe school year.

“Our face coverings policy has enabled us to keep many more of our students in our buildings learning in person with their peers,” Superintendent Earnest Winston said at a Board of Education meeting earlier this week.

Winston said the district has millions of masks available for distribution to both students and teachers.

Recent guidance suggests that N95 or KN95 masks may provide additional protection and our local county health department leadership suggests that, if possible, if available these masks may have a benefit,” Winston said.

Several other districts reinstating mask mandates in light of the omicron surge. 

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But the entire community needs to stay protected to ensure kids can stay in school. Atrium Health is also pledging to donate 1 million masks to groups in need or underserved areas. They dropped off 50,000 at MedAssist on Thursday, a nonprofit pharmacy helping the uninsured.

CMS officials said they’re thankful for the donation and welcome all support to help protect staff and students.

Contact Chloe Leshner at cleshner@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.