North Carolina teacher banned without pay after refusing to wear a mask at work, saying forcing her to do so is unconstitutional
- Aurora Preston, who teaches at South Johnston High School, said she had worn a face mask the previous school year
- She said she stopped wearing the mask because she now believes they are ineffective in slowing the transmission of COVID-19
- Preston claims it should be her constitutional right to decide whether to wear a mask
- The teacher had come to work maskless last week for a teacher’s work day to prepare for the new school year
A North Carolina high school teacher has been banned from paying for nine weeks after refusing to wear a mask at work, in violation of her school district’s rules.
Aurora Preston, who teaches at South Johnston High School, said she had worn face masks for the past school year but now believes they are ineffective in slowing transmission of COVID-19, The news and the observer reported from Raleigh.
Preston claims it should be her constitutional right to decide whether to wear a mask – and the outlet noted that her Facebook page was full of statements like ‘my body, my choice’ and ‘freedom to choose’ .
“It is not the job of government agencies to determine when and where it is appropriate to exercise my rights as a citizen of the US,” Preston said in a statement to The News & Observer.
“It is their job to uphold the Constitution, which always grants these rights to all citizens.”
She added: “If someone disagrees with that point of view, that person is right and it’s great to have that choice to do that.”
Aurora Preston, who teaches at South Johnston High School, said she had worn a face mask the previous school year
She said she stopped wearing the mask because she now believes they are ineffective in slowing the transmission of COVID-19
The teacher had come to work maskless last week for a teacher’s work day to prepare for the new school year
The teacher had come to work maskless last week for a teacher’s work day in preparation for the new school year. She was told to remain alone in her class for several hours before being sent home.
Joe Preston said his wife’s job status with the Johnston County Public Schools system will be reviewed at the end of the nine-week leave.
The Johnston County school board voted on July 29 to make face masks optional. But the board of directors voted on Aug. 10 to demand masks — joining more than three dozen North Carolina school districts who reversed their decision to make masks optional.
The school district said in a statement Wednesday it will not comment on confidential personnel matters.
“It’s not about the masks. It’s about government control versus individual freedom. That’s how we personally feel about it,” Joe Preston said in an interview with The News & Observer.
“We have the feeling that a mandatory vaccine is on the way, which she clearly isn’t going to stick to.”
The Prestons have since set up a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $6,000 — the amount the family said it was losing from its nine weeks of unpaid leave.
“She takes a stand to fight for all of us. Unfortunately, we depend on her income,” Joe Preston wrote on the fundraiser.
He added: “If this changes and she is allowed to teach without a face covering again, this will be removed. Any extra money is donated to others to this charity or to this charity.’
Data from the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services shows that there have been 1,181,191 cases in the state of Tar Heel.
There are currently 3,552 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in North Carolina.
There are 4,758,016 people who were considered fully vaccinated after two doses of a vaccine, and 384,714 were considered fully vaccinated after receiving single-dose injections such as Johnson and Johnson’s. Only 49% of the state’s total population is considered fully vaccinated.
Face mask mandates in school districts have become divisive in recent months, with angry anti-masks being filmed on experts calling for the implementation of face coverings at school board meetings.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed an executive order banning mandatory mask mandates in schools in his state, though many districts have vowed to defy him.
Children under 12 are not currently eligible to receive COVID vaccines and may not be able to get the shot until later this year.
Supporting mask teachers and parents say this means students should be encouraged to continue wearing masks.
Critics argue that mask rules hinder learning, and also point to statistics showing that children are less likely to become seriously ill from COVID, although many young people have experienced serious side effects or even died as a result of contracting it.