The Board of Trustees of the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District approved 5-2 to continue mask mandates during a board meeting on Tuesday.
The state requires a monthly vote on the policy, which trustees Ed Liverman and Henry Ford cast dissenting votes.
The Herald reached out to both trustees for a response, to which Liverman said in an email, “On the mask mandate issue, let me first say, I completely understand why our board votes for the mask mandate. Quite frankly, our board is forced to do so by our state Governor. If our district elects to wear masks, then we do not have to quarantine students and teachers. Because this rule is handed to us by our Governor (for schools but not certain other indoor and outdoor gatherings), then I believe he should have the strength and leadership to make this decision at the state level.
“Therefore, stop continuing to put this board and all school boards across the state in such a tough position. I see the science on both sides of the mask debate from people with medical backgrounds that are more qualified than myself. So, my vote is a message to Governor [Roy] Cooper in Raleigh. Our Governor obviously wishes for our students and staff to wear masks. If that is his desire, then lead and mandate; stop passing the buck to our local school board and quit playing games! Our citizens, myself included, are growing tired of the politics.”
Ford said, looking back at the July and August board meetings, the board voted that masks would be optional and not mandatory.
“And then Raleigh came out with a bunch of regulations and rules really forcing our school boards to make mask mandates,” he said. “Because if ‘Johnny’ gets sick in the classroom, then the rest of the people don’t have to go home except ‘Johnny.’ But if they’re not wearing masks, then the whole class has to go home. And they say follow the science, but let me ask you, we have 60,000 people at a college football game, these kids are walking out of that school, going to football practices, going to soccer practices, going to play with each other, going to church, going to baseball practices, going to gyms in Raleigh — no masks.
“Where are we masking up beside the hospitals, which I understand that it’s a whole different entity, but why mask up at only the schools? I do not accept or want other places to mask up. And they say follow the science. Well, last science I heard about herd immunity was it was best for some of them to catch it to be able to be better immune.”
Ford said he understood protecting people they go home to that may get it. He also said there have been cluster outbreaks, such as with the football, basketball and cheerleading team.
“All it was to them was pretty much a cold,” Ford said. “Did they quarantine? No. They didn’t go to school, but they didn’t quarantine. And we went back last March with no mask. Why? And if the masks work, why push — as some might say, vaccine in the arm? But if the vaccine in the arm works, why push masks? We are going on two years and no better than we were at the beginning. It is time to get back to some normalcy.”