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Forsyth County School leaders ask for parents’ help as they see ‘decline in the number of students wearing a mask’

Forsyth County school leaders are asking parents and community members to work together to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following safety guidelines, noting that students and staff are urged to wear face masks at school.

Letters from Superintendent Dr. Jeff Bearden and school principals throughout the county warning about the continued safety measures have come in light of a spike in COVID-19 cases in county schools in the past week.

Although numbers are still low compared to neighboring counties and districts, FCS saw 33 total current COVID-19 cases among face-to-face students and staff — the highest number of cases since students first went back to school in mid-August.

According to the district’s website, 16 of these cases were within county high schools — with more than half of those being Lambert High School students and staff. Another nine cases were reported from elementary schools, and eight were reported from middle schools.

In a letter to parents on Friday, Bearden noted that 1.3%, which is 426, of the student population, were quarantined on Wednesday due to direct exposure.

Many parents in the county have taken to social media in the last week to share concerns of students at the schools no longer following guidelines as they should.

One parent, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash from the school community, said that their kids have noticed both a lack of students and staff members wearing masks at school.

Bearden acknowledged the issue in his letter that he addressed to parents on Friday, reminding students and staff of the importance of wearing a mask out in public.

“Masks are still an expectation for all students and staff unless a disability prevents an individual from wearing one,” Bearden wrote. “We are experiencing a decline in the number of students wearing a mask during the school day. Most show up at school with a mask but wind up taking it off or wearing it around their neck. Most medical experts continue to impress upon all of us that wearing a mask helps to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Bearden explained that whether students are wearing masks or not, they will be quarantined if they face direct exposure to the virus. The goal in expecting kids and staff to wear masks is to make sure that everyone stays healthy and safe.

He pointed out in the letter that the district has had a smooth first quarter and everyone has started to get used to the new normal within schools.

“It’s human nature to become complacent when things appear to be going well,” Bearden wrote. “We cannot be complacent. We must remain vigilant. As adults, we must set an example. I implore your assistance. Please speak with your children, once again, about the importance of following all precautionary measures: Mask Up, Wash Up, Cover Up, Clean Up and Back Up.”

Principals throughout the county have echoed this same sentiment, calling on community members to work together to help with the issue. Some also pointed out that COVID-19 safety measures can also help to protect against other respiratory diseases throughout the winter.

“I will not debate science or politics with anyone on this topic, but I will tell you that we are entering the cold and flu season,” Forsyth Central High School Principal Mitch Young wrote in a letter. “This year has already seen widespread strep throat afflictions. Simply from a commonsense standpoint, I would urge you to encourage your students to wear those pasts and frequently wash their hands, if for no other reason than to fend off colds and flus that always come along in our winter months. Again, this is a plea for your help!”

For updated information on COVID-19 cases within Forsyth County’s schools, visit the district’s website.