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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

Mask mandates end Monday in North Carolina's 2 biggest school districts

masks optional classroom
Union County Public Schools
Scenes like this classroom in Union County Public Schools, where masks have been optional all year, will be more common now that most North Carolina districts have ended their mask mandates.

Monday marks the end of mask mandates in the state’s two largest school districts, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Wake County schools.

The beginning of mask-optional policies in CMS and Wake means about 293,000 students and 38,000 employees can report to classes without face coverings. It’s the first time since the pandemic closed schools in March of 2020.

The governor and state health officials set Monday as the target for making masks optional in public schools. Most districts have already done so. Of the few remaining, several have school board votes scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

But at least three districts, including Durham Public Schools, recently voted to keep their mandates in place past Monday.

School and health officials note that making masks optional doesn’t mean they’ll vanish. Adults and children who want the added layer of protection against COVID-19 may continue to wear them.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.