One day after Union County’s Board of Education voted to stop quarantining students and staff who have been exposed to COVID unless they test positive or exhibit symptoms, Lincoln County has followed suit.
At its Tuesday night meeting, the Lincoln County Board of Education denied two Atrium Health doctors the opportunity to address the board, then voted to rescind the school district mask mandate and stop following COVID quarantine protocols outlined in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Strong Schools Toolkit.
The meeting began with Chair Mark Mullen striking two speakers from the agenda: Dr. Inga Kish, a Shelby physician who specializes in Emergency Medicine, and Dr Elisabeth Stoffel who practices Family Medicine in Denver, NC.
The two physicians had presumably attended in order to offer insight on COVID safety but were prevented from doing so because of board policy requiring speakers to sign up several days before the meeting. Board discussion later in the meeting indicated the policy allowed for exceptions, but a motion to allow the physicians to speak had been voted down.
In addition to making masks optional in schools, a motion introduced by Vice Chair Heather Rhyne said the following:
“In regards specifically to COVID-19, effective immediately, unless a student or staff member is positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation, is symptomatic, or has been given a written quarantine order from the local health department, they should be on school campus.”
The motion passed 4-2.
Lincoln County’s move to make masks optional and end quarantines for most students and staff comes one day after the school district confirmed the death of 44 year-old Lincoln County Schools teacher and pastor Cruceta Jeffeirs.
Jeffeirs taught third grade at Battleground Elementary, and family members said her death was the result of complications from COVID-19.
According to the most recent CDC data, Lincoln County is currently experiencing high community COVID transmission with a positivity rate above 15%. Only 45.3% of eligible Lincoln County residents are fully vaccinated against the virus.
Update: Please note the following correction which was submitted by a reader and Lincoln County resident: