The Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education is considering a new strategy that would result in staff and students being required to wear masks only when the number of COVID-19 cases at their school exceeded a predetermined threshold.

The proposal, which was discussed by the board at Monday’s meeting, described what a 1 percent positive COVID-19 threshold would look like at each school.

At Celeste Henkel Elementary, for example, the 1 percent threshold would be six people. If a total of six staff members and students tested positive for COVID-19 during any given week then masks would be required. During the first week of January, there were seven positive tests at the school. The next week four people tested positive for COVID-19. The third week of January there were nine positive tests at the school.

According to I-SS officials, one downside to that strategy is that parents may not like switching back and forth between a mandatory mask policy and a mask optional policy. Another concern is that some parents would not see updates and send their child to school without a mask when masks are mandatory.

A majority of I-SS elementary principals support establishing one policy for the whole school system so that the process would be streamlined, officials said. Meanwhile, some middle and high school principals said that they were okay with the 1 percent strategy.

I-SS Board Chairman Todd Carver said the motivation for the policy — which mirrors Mooresville Graded Schools’ strategy in December before that board switched to a mandatory mask policy in January when the number of COVID-19 cases spiked — was a desire to minimize the use of masks.

“I was trying to put an idea out there for all schools not to be masked. I was just trying to come up with a compromise,” Carver explained.

Board member Martin Page said the proposal seems overly complicated.

“We just need to mask or not mask,” he said.

Each month I-SS leaders provide data so that the board can make an informed decision about masking for the district. N.C. law requires that each local school board vote monthly regarding masks.

The board will vote again on its masking policy during its February 14 meeting.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. and can be viewed live on YouTube or the public can attend in person. Meetings are held at 350 Old Murdock Road in Troutman.

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