The Greene County Board of Education voted 4-1 to continue the mask mandate at it November meeting.

The majority of public school districts across the state have implemented a mask mandate, which school boards are required to vote on each month.

However, the Greene board agreed to give Superintendent Patrick Miller the authority to make masks optional if transmission levels drop to moderate or low levels for at least seven consecutive days following the guidelines of the NCDHHS StrongSchoolsNC Public Health Toolkit.

Miller read the guidance from the Toolkit prior to the vote stating, “When community transmission levels decline to moderate or low levels for at least seven consecutive days, school leaders can consider making face coverings optional for vaccinated individuals.

“Face coverings should continue to be required for all unvaccinated individuals until community transmission is at low levels when masks could be optional.”

During the Nov. 22 meeting’s public comment section, parent Greg Woolard discussed his concerns about the mask mandate. This is the second meeting in which he has advocated for making masks optional.

“The masks are not stopping transmission,” Woolard said. “They’re not stopping this disease, this virus.”

“The takeaway is the masks aren’t doing anything. … They’re robbing our kids of freedom of expression.”

Sabrina Phillips also addressed the board. Phillips raised concerns about student safety, saying her daughter was attacked by classmates earlier in November.

She has since removed her daughter from the environment, but said she wants to advocate for other students.

Philips requested that the board speak to the state to update the 2013 student code of conduct.

“These guidelines are not good enough anymore,” she said. “The world has changed since 2013 and these guidelines need to be changed as well.”

In other business at the November meeting:

  • Emery Smith, principal at Snow Hill Primary School, recognized four first-grade students for receiving the Student Spotlight Award: Maia Blixit, Lizet Jimenez-Infante, Sumeeya Williams and Kody Mistichelli.

Miller honored Rochelle Speight for being the employee of the month from the Child Nutrition Department and Fraiser Williams for being the employee of the month from the Transportation Department.

  • The board voted unanimously to approve a distribution plan which will provide $20,057 in retention bonuses for Child Nutrition Department staff.
  • The board heard the first reading of technology and student board policies.
  • The board voted unanimously to approve remote participation in board meetings.
  • The board voted unanimously to approve retention bonuses of $4,000 for all staff. The bonuses were scheduled to be be paid in four equal installments through May 2023.
  • The board voted unanimously to approve in-county transfer requests.
  • Upcoming events were discussed. On Dec. 4, Snow Hill will host the annual Christmas parade. The Christmas Luncheon will be at noon on Dec. 9. The next board meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Dec. 13 in the tech center.