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County with optional mask requirement gears up for new semester

Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 6:45 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Onslow County Schools will continue to move forward with optional mask requirements for the start of the 2021-2022 school year.

The county is standing firm on the decision despite several other states seeing schools with optional mask requirements have to stop in-person learning at their schools due to COVID-19 complications.

Clyde Erwin Elementary School’s faculty and staff say6 they are excited to have children back in person, and Dr. Crystal Howard, principal of the school assuring “We are well prepared for anything that may come our way,” in terms of the potential health risks caused by the high transmission rates of the delta variant.

Teachers understand the concerns for children’s safety surrounding the aggressive strain of COVID-19, but look at the chance to have kids in the classroom as yet another education opportunity.

“I think it’s so important that they’re here. We’re going to take this as a learning opportunity. You’re going to learn these habits and carry them through your life. Being healthy, being safe, being smart,” said 4th grade teacher Keara Horton in reference to health and safety of students.

“We can only do so much through a screen you know,” said Horton, stressing that the in-person learning experience proved to be instrumental in the development of children, pointing out the decline in learning amongst children over the past year.

Clyde Erwin Elementary will also receive $400,000 in grant funding by way of YMCA after school programs that will help to address learning loss through academic intervention, health and wellness, social and emotional resiliency, and creativity including band, choir, dance, and theater.

The grant offers the potential of another $400,000 for two additional years based on need. The YMCA will use the funding to provide summer enrichment in 2022 for students with the highest academic and social needs.

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