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Superintendent: McDowell teachers will wear face coverings, no matter their personal beliefs
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Superintendent: McDowell teachers will wear face coverings, no matter their personal beliefs

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Teachers and staff members will wear masks in accordance with state mandates when students return to school, no matter what their personal beliefs are on the effectiveness of face coverings, McDowell County’s top education official said Wednesday.

Some parents raised questions after a McDowell High School instructor posted on Facebook a lengthy rebuttal to Marion Mayor Steve Little’s mask mandate this week, saying the “manufactured virus is far less lethal than the flu” and “a cloth covering is a farce at best.”

The post, which is no longer viewable, was shared by others, leading to both positive and negative reactions. Though the post did not address mask use in a school setting, commenters wondered if teachers and staffers could work without masks if they were personally against wearing them.

The McDowell News asked Superintendent Mark Garrett the following questions:

• Will teachers and staff members be required to wear masks or face coverings at school no matter how they personally feel about the issue?

• If so, how will this be enforced?

• What happens if a teacher or staff member flatly refuses to wear a mask?

Here is his response:

“McDowell County Schools continues to follow the guidelines and requirements in place for the operation of schools, which include the wearing of face coverings by adults and students. The General Assembly has mandated that all LEAs must be in compliance with ‘all required COVID-19 guidance related to the operation of elementary and secondary schools issued by the State Board of Education, the Department of Public Instruction, and the Department of Health and Human Services.’

“Cooperation is expected with enforcement to follow only if necessary. Anyone refusing to wear a face covering (without a documented developmental, medical, or behavioral health condition that inhibits their ability to wear one), will be addressed on a case by case basis just like any other concern. However, I do not expect issues with our employees over face coverings. We want to set the example for our students and others to follow.”

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