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North Carolina's 2 largest school systems adopt mask-optional policies

In this Oct. 26, 2021 file photo, Carolyn Griffin begins the first day of in person classes at Davis Drive Elementary in Cary, NC.
Kate Medley
for WUNC

North Carolina's two largest school districts have agreed to make masks optional for students and staff indoors starting early next month, conforming with Gov. Roy Cooper's recent recommendation to end mask mandates.

The Wake County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg school boards voted separately on Tuesday to remove their broad COVID-19 mask requirements as of March 7, news outlets reported. The two districts combined instruct about 300,000 students.

March 7 is the date that new K-12 school guidelines from Cooper administration health officials encouraging the end of mandates take effect.

At least 88 of the state's 115 K-12 school districts have now voted for mask-optional policies, The News & Observer of Raleigh reported. The number of disrticts with such policies has increased greatly recently as COVID-19 transmission rates have fallen, followed by Cooper's announcement last week.

A bill approved by the General Assembly and on Cooper's desk would let parents allow their students to opt out of mask mandates that local education boards still have in place. Cooper has until late Sunday to sign the bill or veto it, or it will become law without his signature.

Local school boards have been required this school year to set mask policies and vote on them monthly.

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