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Asheville, Buncombe schools will not mandate COVID-19 vaccine for students ‘anytime soon’

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools will not mandate the COVID-19 vaccines for students.

School Health Program Manager April Baur helps to coordinate the health response for both Asheville City and Buncombe County schools, and she said both districts are leaning on the Strong Schools NC Toolkit.

“If there was going to be any addition to the required immunization schedule, there would be a lot of discussions and a lot of research and communication to folks, so I don’t anticipate that would change anytime soon,” Baur said.

She said masks will be required for the foreseeable future, based on the guidance they’ve received from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

On Wednesday, Governor Roy Cooper and NCDHHS Secretary Dr. Mandy Cohen said the state’s mask mandate will likely not be lifted until at least two-thirds of North Carolinians have been vaccinated — excluding, of course, children under 16 years of age.

As of Wednesday, April 28, health officials said 49% of N.C. residents age 18 and older had received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while near 40% were fully vaccinated.

ACS Superintendent Dr. Gene Freeman said right now is also too early to make any definite mandates on vaccines.

Still, he said the district is encouraging students and staff to get vaccinated.

“I want to allow parents to make that decision based on how well they know their children’s health history,” he said.

Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is currently approved for those age 16 and up, but researchers with the biotech company expect to seek approval for its vaccine for children as young as 12 in May.

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