North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s administration released new guidance to public school districts Wednesday, asking K-8 schools to require masks for all staff members and students, regardless of vaccination status.
Children 12 and under cannot obtain a Covid-19 vaccination. The Pfizer vaccine has been approved for minors ages 12 to 17.
The statewide mask mandate (covering schools, public transit, prisons, and public health facilities) expires at the end of the month. Cooper is now asking school districts to implement the new guidance, shaped by the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Asked specifically what the administration will do if the mask guidance is not followed, Cooper did not explain but stated enforcement of similar rules had been an issue since day one.
High schools are asked to require anyone who is not yet vaccinated to wear a mask indoors, including staff. Social distancing of 3 feet is encouraged whenever possible at all grade levels.
In North Carolina, 24% of minors aged 12 to 17 are vaccinated. The vaccination rate in the adult population is higher, at 60%, and even higher among seniors 65 and older, at 86%.
As of Wednesday, the state has seen its highest number of individuals currently hospitalized (694) and daily new cases (1,434) in a two-month period. The uptick has been fueled by the Delta Variant, a more deadly and transmissible form of Covid.
Since May, about 6% of the state’s positive Covid-19 infections are considered breakthrough cases, meaning cases in people who had received the vaccine at least two weeks prior.
“While this disease is still with us, the more people get vaccinated, the less it has to affect our day-to-day lives,” Cooper said.
Port City Daily offers all Covid-19 coverage for free. However, we value the time and effort our journalists put into their work. If you agree, please, consider a monthly subscription for access to all of PCD’s in-depth reporting, and sign up for the free morning newsletter.