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Parents awaiting updated mask guidance wonder what school year will look like for kids

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Middle and high school-age campers have taken part in a SkillSet camp held at the UNC Asheville STEAM Studio in River Arts District. By the end of the week, they will have designed and made their own electric guitars. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

North Carolina school systems are waiting for updated guidance on masks from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) as the start of the school year approaches.

As schools wait for more information, parents are left with questions about what school will look like this year. Laurie Koshers said her daughter will not attend school in-person unless kids are wearing masks, and she hopes new guidance is released soon.

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“As soon as possible, like I said I’m not working, but I think for working parents it’s especially challenging to have to shift on a dime,” Koshers said.

MAHEC School Health Program Manager April Baur oversees Buncombe County Schools, Asheville City Schools and some local charter schools. She asked that parents be patient as they wait for new guidance from state health officials.

“Try as much as possible to be patient, to be flexible, to understand that anything we do in the schools related to COVID-19 protocols are aimed at keeping everybody safe,” Baur said.

Haywood County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte is frustrated with the waiting period. He said he believes the decision to require masks in schools should be made by the local school system, not the state.

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“We want the officials in Raleigh, in Health and Human Services, the governor, the General Assembly, someone to give us their definitive rules,” Nolte said.

A spokesperson for the NCDHHS said updated guidance for schools will be released later this week.

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