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When Students Return to School, Everyone Will Be Wearing Masks

North 67AUGUST 4, 2021 – When students return to school in August, everyone in the building will be wearing masks.

At the recommendation of Superintendent Tricia McManus, the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education voted to require masks for all students, staff, and visitors 2 years old and older in all WS/FCS buildings and means of transportation for the first quarter of the 2021-2022 school year.

“Students need to be in schools with their teachers and peers,” McManus said. “It is my goal to have as many students in school as possible, safely. I visited summer schools where all the students were wearing masks and the learning they were doing was amazing.”

“We have worked closely with healthcare partners, local health providers, followed national and state trends and monitored the latest information on COVID cases in Forsyth County and we feel this is the safest, most responsible way to return to school.”

As McManus noted, everyone participating in summer programs wore masks.

Although there were challenges, everything went well, people said.

As the Director of K-12 Arts Education & the Summer Enrichment Programs, Andrew Craft oversaw the Summer Enrichment programs at Whitaker Elementary and Reynolds Auditorium.

Ward 84At the Summer Enrichment musical at Reynolds Auditorium, both the student performers in Matilda and the members of the audience wore masks.

Everything went well at both locations, Craft said. 

“We wore masks at both Summer Enrichment campuses without issue including the performances for Matilda,” Craft said.

“While nobody loves wearing a mask, everyone was onboard with wearing them while inside. The mask breaks outside were incredibly helpful and popular with the students and staff.”

During the regular school year, Justin Marckel is the Assistant Principal at Southwest Elementary School. This summer, he served as the Site Supervisor for the R.I.S.E. (Reaching Incredible Success Everyday) Summer Camp at Flat Rock Middle, one of 11 R.I.S.E. summer camps being held through the WS/FCS district.

Marckel said he thought that wearing masks served to help people feel more at ease.

“I think our first job is to make students and staff feel safe and comfortable and safe,” Marckel said.

“While there are people - adults and children alike - who may not want to wear the mask, I think there is a common understanding as to why.”

Rise 45“For the most part, students and staff complied with the mask mandate. Students would need reminders sometimes to pull their masks up, but usually complied right away.”

Monika Vasili, who is an Assistant Principal at North Forsyth High, also serves as co-director for the school’s Summer Ambassadors program. 

Vasili said that wearing masks was a way for everyone to show respect for each other.

“One of the reasons to put the mask on is to respect others,” she said. “It starts with you first.”

“By protecting yourself and keeping the mask on, you are protecting the humanity.”

While it worked well, wearing masks does present challenges.

“The challenge for us is when we must teach,” Vasili said.

It can be hard for students to understand when teachers are giving instructions or providing information, she said.

And it can be hard for students when answering questions or talking with each other.

That said, everyone wore their masks and made it work.