Who is Aurora Preston? Maskless NC teacher sent on leave starts GoFundMe for salary

North Carolina teacher Aurora Preston was suspended without pay for refusing to wear a mask. Now she's raising her 9-weeks worth of salary on GoFundMe


                            Who is Aurora Preston? Maskless NC teacher sent on leave starts GoFundMe for salary
Aurora Preston (Go Fund Me)
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After defying her school district's guidelines and refusing to wear a mask at work, a North Carolina high school teacher has been suspended without pay for nine weeks, news outlets reported on Thursday, August 26.

MEAWW has earlier reported on the steps that schools are taking to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. The American Civil Liberties Union (UCLA) on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit over a state law that bans schools from requiring their students and employees to wear masks. Last week, Florida school board chairwoman Rosalind Osgood defied Ron DeSantis' mask mandate ban after three teachers died of Covid-19 within one day of one another.

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According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which conducted the analysis, the findings reveal that initial infections among educators played a substantial role in in-school coronavirus transmission and subsequent chains of infection to other educators, students, and households, highlighting the importance of preventing infections among educators in particular. 

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The News & Observer of Raleigh on Thursday, Aug 26, stated that Aurora Preston, a teacher at South Johnston High School, said she had used a face mask the previous school year but no longer believes they are useful in decreasing Covid-19 transmission. Preston thinks it should be her constitutional right to choose whether or not to wear a mask, and her Facebook page is full of sentiments like "my body, my choice" and "freedom to choose," according to the source.

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"'It is not the job of government agencies to dictate when and where it is appropriate to utilize the rights afforded to me by being a citizen of the US," Preston said in a statement to The News & Observer. It is their job to uphold the Constitution affording these rights to all of the citizens all of the time. If someone disagrees with that stance, it would that person's right and it's wonderful to have that choice to do so."

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Last week, the instructor came to work without a mask for a teacher workday to prepare for the upcoming school year. Before being sent home, she was instructed to spend many hours alone in her classroom. Joe Preston added that at the end of the nine-week leave, his wife's job status with the Johnston County Public Schools system will be reassessed, the Daily Mail reported.

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On July 29, the Johnston County School Board decided to make face masks optional. The board, however, decided on August 10 to make masks mandatory, joining more than a dozen other North Carolina school districts that had previously made masks optional. In a statement released Wednesday, Aug 25, the school system stated that it will not comment on personnel concerns that are secret. "It's not about the masks. It's about government control versus individual liberty. That's how we personally feel about it," Preston's husband Joe said in an interview with The News & Observer. "We feel that a mandated vaccine is on its way, which she's obviously not going to comply with."

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The Prestons have subsequently put up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $6,000, which is the amount the family claims it would lose due to her nine weeks of unpaid leave. MEAWW found that $5,520 was already raised during the time of publishing this story. "In the event this changes and she is allowed to teach again without a face covering this will be taken down. Any extra money will be donated to others in this cause or charity," Joe wrote.

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Aurora had about 30 days of vacation and sick days accrued, but she was warned by JCPS that she would be unable to use them. “This is where I am at today. No word. No work. No pay. No nothing. All I know is that it’s not about educating children but following ‘guidelines’. And it seems if I’m not following there is nothing in place to warrant the punishment received,” Preston said to the Johnston County Report.

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