Carteret County Schools make masks optional beginning Monday as positivity rate drops below 5% threshold

This graph shows the percentage positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in Carteret County over time. (Carteret County graphic)

CARTERET COUNTY — With the county’s percentage positivity rate dropping below 5% for the first time since July on Friday, Carteret County Schools announced face masks inside its facilities will be optional beginning Monday.

Carteret health officials reported the positivity rate was 4.6% as of Friday afternoon, down from 5.4% reported the previous day and compared to a statewide rate of 4.4%. The rate indicates the number of positive COVID-19 tests over the total number of tests conducted, and it is an important metric public health officials use track the prevalence of the disease in a community.

Locally, the rate was also being used as a benchmark for moving to mask-optional instruction in the county’s public schools.

School officials, including BOE Chairperson Clark Jenkins and Superintendent Dr. Rob Jackson, previously told the News-Times the school system would move to mask-optional instruction once the positivity rate was below 5% on a “consistent basis,” but did not specify the number of days that would constitute.

In a release sent at 5:15 p.m. Friday, school system officials said the BOE’s decision in September applies to all students, staff and visitors to public school buildings. However, wearing a face mask will continue to be required on school buses, per an order from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

After dropping to relatively low levels during the spring and early summer, Carteret’s positivity rate began to spike again around early August, rising to nearly 15% at times as the delta variant of the coronavirus drove a deadly COVID-19 surge. The rate has been steadily coming down through October, finally falling below the 5% threshold public health officials have been aiming for throughout the pandemic.

As for COVID-19 cases connected to area schools, officials reported 16 new confirmed cases for the week of Oct. 22-28, down from 29 the previous week. Of those cases, 15 were students and one was an employee. There are currently 8,020 students enrolled in Carteret County’s public schools, with 1,070 employees.

Cases were reported at Broad Creek Middle, Bogue Sound Elementary, East Carteret High, Morehead City Primary, Newport Middle and White Oak Elementary schools. Broad Creek Middle School reported the highest number of cases at six.

Carteret Community College reported no active cases of COVID-19 on campus as of Friday. The last known date of exposure on campus was Oct. 15, according to college officials.

Meanwhile, at the wider county level, Carteret health officials reported 10 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Friday, for a total of 8,452 documented cases since March 2020. The number of active cases ticked up by one from the previous day to 96 as of Friday afternoon.

No new deaths were reported this week, keeping the total at 91.

The census of COVID-19 patients hospitalized at Carteret Health Care in Morehead City also fell Friday, from four the previous day down to three. Just one of those patients is not fully vaccinated, while the other two are fully vaccinated.

(7) comments


Again kudos to the school board for making a rational decision, And standing by their decision. The CCNT for supporting that decision. I fear another wave of crud will appear as the winter approaches. I hope if/when the positivity rate climbs again the school board will be proactive in reinstating masks and mitigation efforts. Everyone is tired of this, I know I am. The way out of this is masks and vaccinations, sadly a political rather then medical issue in some folks minds.


C’mon, man, why mask up when you’ve been vaccinated or have natural immunity the best kind of immunity?


perhaps because I have been blessed with common sense? I am old, a smoker covid is still around, and cold and flu season is right around the corner. i am able to comprehend what i read and it is clear from the county health dept releases in this very paper, that ppl who have been vaccinated can still end up in hospital with covid, Based on the numbers it was 7/1 unvaccinated for local hospitalizations during the worst of the latest surge. I do fail to understand how promoting natural immunity over vaccination, or taking an anti mask stance in any way helps your fellow citizens. unless it is to "resist the tyranny " of staying healthy.


Cigarettes will probably get you before Covid. Please try and stop.


Flu and COVID-19 are both respiratory illnesses and Smoking is one of the main risk factors for infections in the respiratory tract. Why worry about one closely related disease and not the other. I don’t understand the logic. Stay Healthy!


Being and Staying healthy has nothing to with with masks or vaccines… don’t smoke , don’t drink alcohol, don’t do drugs, eat healthy, take the appropriate vitamins, and exercise. Get fresh air and some sun for natural vitamin d and try to remove stress from your life. Masks are proven non effective and the people that have done their homework knows this is true. I am not speaking untruth here. Two immunologists in the family and one head of an icu all have done appropriate studies on both and All have said to not take the vaccine. It is suppressing everyone’s immune system and that’s why there was an explosion of numbers after the vaccines rolled out. But everyone is entitled to their own opinion even if it’s wrong and you might think I’m wrong and that’s okay.


Please link to these studies they have published, as a cursory search turns up exactly zero peer reviewed studies that say this.

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