Optional masking begins for WSFCS

Published 10:05 pm Tuesday, February 22, 2022

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For the first time since March 2020, teachers, students and staff at all schools in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County schools are able to flash their smiles at school again in plain view.

Optional masking was approved by the WSFCS Board of Education last week after a recommendation by superintendent Trish McManus
The new policy began on Monday, Feb. 28. Students and staff can still wear masks if they choose to do do but they are no longer required.

Newly updated North Carolina COVID-19 guidelines within the StrongSchoolsNC Toolkit took effect last week. Those new guidelines do say students who test positive or are exposed to a positive individual must still wear a mask for at least five days after their exclusion.

Symptomatic individuals will still be required to wear a mask while waiting to leave a school/facility or to be tested. N95 masks will continue to be available to all WS/FCS employees. All schools also have COVID-19 testing available as well.

The WS/FCS health services team will continue to review COVID data on a daily basis and will report the data monthly to the Board of Education for mask recommendations.

In-person school was shut down in March of 2020 when the COVID pandemic began to sweep across the country. Students completed the 2020 school year in a virtual learning environment.

Students began the 2020-21 school year virtually and began a phased re-opening for elementary, middle and high schools with exceptions made for students in Career Technical programs as well as Exceptional Children to return to in-person learning with the requirement of having to wear a mask.

CTE students returned to schools in October of 2020. K-3 and Exceptional Children’s students returned on Nov. 2.

Middle and high school students were grouped in cohorts depending on the size of the school and had limited numbers of students in the building at any given time. Students in sixth grade returned in early November and seventh and eighth graders were allowed to return on Nov. 16. 

High school students began in-person classes, in their assigned cohorts, on Jan. 25, 2021. It was a hybrid learning environment as many students chose to remain virtual but could log on to a teacher’s Canvas page to get live instruction when the teacher was teaching to students in their class as well as online at the same time.

Students began the 2021-22 school year with masks until the board lifted the requirement at last week’s meeting.

The city of Winston-Salem lifted its mask mandate effective March 1.