To mask or not to mask

Published 5:15 pm Thursday, July 29, 2021

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All schools in Virginia must make in-person instruction available to students in the 2021-2022 school year, but how that will look for Charlotte County Public Schools (CCPS) when students return Monday, Aug. 9, is expected to be decided this week.

One issue facing school divisions this fall is mask requirements. 

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDE) recently released new guidance for pre-K through 12 schools for the upcoming school year.

The Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia pre-K through 12 schools reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports school divisions in making decisions on masking and other prevention measures, as informed by local data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the VDH, pre-K through 12 schools will make locally-informed decisions on masking and prevention measures, as informed by CDC recommendations.

On Monday, Jul. 26, CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason said the administration is working on its mask policy and will release those requirements the week.

According to the new guidance, elementary schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers, and staff wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccination is available for children under 12 years old and there has been sufficient time to allow for children younger than 12 years old to be fully vaccinated.

At a minimum, middle and high schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors.

In addition, all schools should be prepared to adjust local mask policies as local public health conditions evolve throughout the year.

CCPS will open its doors to five days a week of in-person learning in August and will also offer virtual learning for those who do not wish to attend in person.

According to Mason, CCPS pays for students to attend Virtual Virginia.

“The school system pays for Virtual Virginia enrollments because these students are still considered CCPS students,” Mason said. “If students are removed from the program for grades/attendance/other reasons, parents must reimburse tuition costs.”

Currently, there are approximately 20 students enrolled in Virtual Virginia.