Updated as of Feb. 23 2022 at 11:14 a.m. to include additional information from the Healthy Elon Committee.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Kody Kinsley encouraged schools and cities to drop indoor mask mandates in a press release on Feb. 17. The governor and NCDHHS secretary urged removing mask requirements by March 7. An email from Jon Dooley, vice president for student life, on Feb. 23 said the Healthy Elon committee is working with local and regional data experts to review the university’s mandate and consider the best time to modify the policy. 

In an Alamance Burlington School System meeting Feb. 22, the Board of Education voted six to one in favor of lifting mask mandates in all ABSS schools. This will take effect immediately.

Students and teachers are no longer required to wear masks indoors or outside. Masks will still be required on school buses, due to Executive Order 180, which the Board of Education does not have the authority to overrule federal requirements. 

In response to masks mandates being dropped in Alamance and Guilford counties, President of Elon University Connie Book said the university’s mask policy is not changing as of now. 

“Things are changing and we will be adjusting our policies as conditions change,” Book said. “The goal is to take our masks off when we can.” 

Book said the Healthy Elon Committee will give the campus community a two weeks notice before changes are implemented. 

Board of Education chair Sandy Ellington-Graves, who’s child attends an ABSS school, voted in favor of lifting the mandate. She said she has always voted for masks to be optional, and now, “students can free their smiles in the morning.” 

“We have a difference of views on the board, but we respect each other and I think that’s important,” Ellington-Graves said. “We have been a mask mandate [district] for about a year and a half, so it’s nice to be able to see some compromise on the board and move in a different direction.”

More than a dozen community members in favor of the mask mandate being lifted attended the meeting, holding up signs saying, “Freedom from medical tyranny,” “It’s all about control,” and “Unmask our kids.” 

One person who supported the removal of masks in the school system was Diana Bromaghim. She has grandchildren in ABSS and is a substitute teacher for the district. 

“Just talking to each other and relating to each other…[not] being able to see the facial expression of your friends and your teachers is hard,” Bromaghim said. 

Bromaghim said that she still respects teachers and students who still want to wear masks.