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The Roanoke Rapids Graded School District Board of Trustees decided Tuesday night to wait until the August 10 meeting to decide whether masks will be required or optional.

The board will also use that meeting to determine whether the district  will opt-in to an on-site state COVID testing program.  

“We can’t hold our children hostage. There’s an elevated risk involved in going to the grocery store,” board member Mike Williams said. “We have to look at this reasonably. The vaccine is available to those 12 and older and it’s been proven that children are not as susceptible.” 

Other Trustees agreed.  

“This mask issue is a double-edged sword for local boards like ours. Some people got vaccinated so they didn’t have to wear a mask,” said board member Joey Briggs.  

Vice Chair Valencia Davis expressed concern over the new data regarding the Delta variant. “It’s a moving target for us as a District right now.” 

Parent Andy Cain told the board he was against requiring masks.  “Masks have caused great emotional and mental stress on children,” he said. “If one feels they should wear a mask, that is perfectly fine and is consistent with personal responsibility and American freedom. I’m here to inform you that my child will not wear a mask this year. I urge you to make masks optional so children will not be under the tyranny of mask mandates.”  

Trustees also expressed concerns over the state testing program.  

“I’m against COVID testing at our schools,” said Briggs.  “Schools should be a safe place. I think it would become traumatic to test kids on our campuses.”

Board members said they will continue to seek guidance over the next few weeks from the local health department and the North Carolina Strong Schools Toolkit from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.  

In other action, the board approved a contract with the technology company, Gaggle. 

The software protects students and ensures their well-being by informing administrators of incidents of cyberbullying, self-harm, threats, or any inappropriate behavior taking place on district-issued devices and student emails. 

Trustees approved a $439,700 contract with Affordable Heating & Air Conditioning for HVAC installation and repairs at ACES, RRHS, and Chaloner.  Three bids were received.  

The district plans to use its federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund money to pay for this project.