North Carolina Coronavirus Feb. 14 Update: 5 Area School Districts to Review COVID 19 Mask Requirements for Students and Staff

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — Here’s the latest news and information about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

4:50 p.m.
The Johnston County School Board voted to make face coverings optional for students, staff and school visitors without stipulations.

The policy change will take effect on February 21.

The board voted Monday in a special session virtual meeting.

Students and staff will continue to be required to wear face masks on all buses and other school transport.


Five school districts will weigh in on the future of mask mandates for students and staff today.

School boards in Chatham, Moore, Edgecombe, Northampton and Franklin counties are all scheduled to meet on Monday.

The Johnston County School Board is also meeting Monday to discuss recent changes to NCDHHS’ COVID-19 guidelines for schools.

The meeting is scheduled virtually for 4 p.m. NCDHHS no longer recommends contact tracing in schools and relaxed quarantine guidelines for asymptomatic people exposed to COVID-19.

Meanwhile, schools in Cumberland County are set to make masks optional on Wednesday. Additionally, Lee County school officials are scheduled to meet Thursday to discuss their mask policy.

3:35 p.m.
U.S. Representative Richard Hudson, R-NC, is urging the Cumberland County Health Department to revise an ordinance and allow optional masks for schools in the county.

On Tuesday, the Cumberland County School Board voted to make masks optional for students. But the decision is blocked by a reduction order issued by the Cumberland County Health Department in August 2021 mandating masks indoors, Hudson said.

In a letter to the Cumberland County Health Director, Hudson urged the department to revise the order.

“In addition to following the well-established science, I further urge you to follow the parents,” Hudson wrote in part. “Our local Cumberland County School Board has made the decision to make masks optional based on both existing science and their current roles as parents, educators and local leaders. I respectfully urge you to follow their example and to revise the August 2021 curtailment order, in light of both recent evidence and respected parental input.”

On Tuesday, Hudson spoke on the US House Floor and urged support for the Unmask Our Kids Act.

2:52 p.m.
The FDA has just cleared a new monoclonal antibody therapy from Eli Lilly that has shown resistance to Omicron and the BA.2 subvariant.

This one is called bebtelovimab, and Lilly has been working on it for months.

As with other monoclonal therapies, this one is for Covid patients early in their infection to prevent them from getting sicker and prevent them from going to hospital, who are at high risk of getting seriously ill.

The Biden administration said it purchased 600,000 doses ahead of its EUA, for about $720 million. The plan is to get around 300,000 doses this month and another 300,000 in March. The contract also includes a future option for an additional 500,000 doses if needed.

2 p.m.
The US Food and Drug Administration announced Friday that it is postponing the meeting of its advisory committee on vaccines and related biologicals, originally scheduled for February 15, as “new data have recently emerged” regarding the application for authorization. of emergency use from Pfizer and BioNTech for their Covid-19. 19 vaccine for children under 5 years old.

“This will give the agency time to review the additional data, allowing for transparent public discussion as part of our usual scientific and regulatory processes for COVID-19 vaccines. We will provide an update on the timeline for the meeting. from the advisory board once we have received additional data on a third dose in this age group of the company’s ongoing clinical trial and have an opportunity to complete an updated assessment,” said the Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a statement.

House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said the House will propose legislation that gives parents the option to opt out of mask requirements for school children.

The president’s office said Tim Moore sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday asking him to end policies that effectively mandate masks in schools.

Although the NCDHHS said it would update the COVID guidelines for students, the only major updates to the toolkit were eliminating contact tracing for K-12 and ending the recommendation to lay off. asymptomatic students in quarantine.

“This failure by Governor Cooper and DHHS to rescind outdated mask mandates will mean that many schools will leave those mandates in place,” Moore said. “Yesterday’s updates were simply not strong enough. We need to do more to protect our children from further learning setbacks and the other consequences of keeping these mandates in place.”

He added: “As soon as the redistricting is complete, we will introduce legislation in the House to give parents the option to opt out of the mask requirement. Virginia is already proposing a bipartisan bill like this. These are parents, not politicians, who should decide whether or not to mask their children.”

12:21 p.m.
The NCDHHS reported 7,539 new cases for a total of 2,525,734 since the start of the pandemic.

There are three times fewer cases than there are two Fridays, further indicating that the Omicron variant is running its course here in North Carolina.

The daily positive percentage is the lowest since Christmas.

The latest figure is 15.4%. Just two weeks ago, it was 30.4%.

Hospitalizations also fell, with 130 fewer patients than the day before. The total number is 3,556. A week ago there were 4,492 in hospital.

That’s a 21% drop since last Friday and the lowest number of patients since Jan. 6.

There were 85 new deaths reported for a total of 21,665.

The first shipments of vaccines for children under 5 could arrive at pediatricians’ doors as early as Feb. 21, according to a planning guide sent to states by federal health officials and obtained by ABC News.

Doses can be shipped once the FDA has signed off.
The FDA’s independent advisory committee will meet on Tuesday and after that, the FDA can issue an emergency use authorization.

The CDC’s independent advisory committee is expected to meet within days of FDA clearance. Once the CDC approves its panel’s recommendations, vaccinations for children under age 5 can begin.

Durham and Orange counties are offering free N95 masks on Friday.

In County Durham, each household can get a bag of 10 masks from any county library.

In Orange County, free masks are available at Margaret Lane Library in Hillsborough or the Inter Faith Council for Social Service in Carrboro.

State health officials have updated COVID-19 guidelines for schools. Masks are still strongly recommended for all students ages 5 and up, but big changes have been announced to contact tracing and quarantine guidelines.

Contact tracing has been completely removed. State health officials said the omicron variant and an increase in home testing made contact
much less effective tracing than it had been in the past.

Additionally, students and staff exposed to COVID-19 no longer have to stay home and self-isolate unless they start showing symptoms or test positive for the virus.

Those guidelines will be discussed by the Wake County School Board at its meeting on Tuesday.

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