The Lee County Board of Education voted at a special called meeting on Monday night to require that students and staff wear masks when the school year begins later this month.

The vote was 5-2, with Republicans Pam Sutton and Sherry Womack dissenting. Republicans Sandra Bowen and Christine Hilliard joined Democrats Patrick Kelly, Pat McCracken and Dr. Lynn Smith to pass the measure, which also applies to campus visitors.

Hilliard, the board’s vice chair, made the motion to open the school year requiring masks and to revisit the issue at the next regular board meeting. It was seconded by Smith.

The final vote came after a failed motion by Womack to keep masks optional and reassess the situation in six weeks. That motion, seconded by Sutton, failed by an identical 5-2 vote.

Public comments were largely in favor of keeping masks optional for students, with 11 speakers holding that position to just two who supported a mandate. School for most students begins on Aug. 23.

Watch the meeting video below: