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In this August 2020 photo, Southwest Guilford High School Principal Mike Hettenbach dons a mask while he points out a sanitation station and COVID-19 guidelines at the school. At least two Guilford County Board of Education members say the board should decide as soon as possible on whether students will be required to wear masks this year.

GUILFORD COUNTY — The Guilford County Board of Education could decide as early as Tuesday night whether the school system will maintain mask requirements for the academic year that starts in a month.

Two school board members told The High Point Enterprise that they believe the board should decide as soon as possible to give parents sufficient notice.

“I always think sooner is better,” board member Khem Irby said.

Board member Anita Sharpe said an early decision would provide clarity to parents and give them time to adjust plans for their children if they choose.

The school board meeting is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the school district central office at 712 N. Eugene St. in Greensboro. The next scheduled meeting for regular board business is Aug. 10.

The 2021-22 academic year for traditional calendar schools starts Aug. 23.

As of Thursday afternoon, the agenda for the next school board meeting didn’t include an item on mask policies.

Superintendent Sharon Contreras said the school district is reviewing guidance issued Wednesday by Gov. Roy Cooper and state public health leaders. State leaders are encouraging, but not requiring, local school districts to keep mask requirements in school buildings for students and staff.

State public health leaders advise that all students and staff in kindergarten through eighth grade should wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and that students and staff in ninth through 12th grades who aren’t fully vaccinated should wear a mask indoors.

“We will take these updates into consideration as we prepare to discuss with the board of education and to update guidance for our schools,” Contreras told The Enterprise. “In the meantime, we encourage all eligible students and unvaccinated staff to get vaccinated prior to the start of the new school year.”

Irby said she supports the continued requirement of masks in Guilford County Schools.

“With the growth of the delta variant, it’s the best way to keep schools open and in-person,” Irby said. “What’s safe is always the best route to go.”

Sharpe said she’s torn on the issue and worries about rapid changes in guidance from public health agencies complicating the approach of the school board.

“The rules and recommendations change every month and could change again,” Sharpe said.

pjohnson@hpenews.com | 336-888-3528 | @HPEpaul