Teacher Claims It's Her 'God-Given' Right Not To Wear Mask in School

A teacher in North Carolina is off work with no pay after refusing to wear a mask when returning to school.

Aurora Preston, who teaches English at South Johnston High School in Four Oaks, claimed it is her "God-given right" not to wear a mask and told school officials she has no intention of wearing one in the future.

Despite Johnston County Board of Education voting on August 10 to impose a mask mandate in all schools in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19, she showed up for the first teacher workday last week not covering her face.

Speaking to Newsweek, Preston said she was told to take unpaid leave, but refused to sign any paperwork that "would imply I took it by choice."

She added: "This is punishment for standing up for my American right of choice. Nobody in the school system can show me a policy that is being violated to warrant such an action of leave without pay.

"I stand by being educated and using common sense to make decisions right for me and my family. I support differing opinions on the matter because as Americans we are given such rights. The Constitution is there to uphold our already God-given rights."

After Preston informed the principal that she will not be wearing a mask, he told her to wait in a classroom while he sought guidance from the district office on what to do.

After more than three hours, she was told to go home and would be required to take a personal day.

"Nobody had any answers. Nobody knows what to do with me," she said. "I have the right to choose whether or not I comply...I'm not breaking the law. I'm not telling others to break the law," she added to WRAL.

Preston said she does not believe masks help prevent the spread of COVID—a view that is not shared by medical and scientific experts—and that she is not vaccinated against the virus and does not plan to be.

"I'm choosing not to wear a mask for my own beliefs. You're choosing to wear a mask for your own beliefs. We still live in a country where those rights are given," she said.

Speaking to Johnston County Report, Preston said she doesn't regret her decision, despite it meaning she is currently off work without pay.

"The school board flipped their decision last minute to mandate masks for all students and staff right before teacher workdays started. I stand with educating myself and utilizing that to make informed decisions. Therefore, I have chosen to forego a mask in my daily life," she said.

Preston added that after speaking to the school principal, she was emailed by human resources and told that they could offer her a medical exemption, which is not what she wanted as health reasons are not why she is not wearing a mask.

She was then informed that the only option was to take nine weeks leave without pay.

"This is where I am at today. No word. No work. No pay. No nothing," she said.

"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."

In a statement, Johnston County Public Superintendent Eric Bracy said: "The face-covering requirement is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, the NC Department of Health and Human Services, and our local health department.

"Any individual who feels as if they need an accommodation to the face-covering requirement should request an Accommodation Form, which can be provided by their administrator, and have it completed by their medical provider."

teacher wear mask
(File photo) A sign at the entrance to a charter school advises that masks are required to enter, in Los Angeles, California, August 11, 2021. A North Carolina teacher faces losing her job after refusing to wear a mask at school. ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images