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No mask mandate for CCPS students

When Charlotte County Public Schools students return to class Monday, Aug. 9, they will have the choice to wear a face-covering after school administration made mask-wearing an option, but only for the classroom.

“Students and drivers on Charlotte County school buses and county cars will be required to wear face coverings at all times as required by a federal order from the CDC,” CCPS Superintendent Robbie Mason said.

Mason announced the decision Thursday, July 29.

“Despite mask-wearing being optional, we strongly encourage all of our students and staff to wear masks, especially those who have not been vaccinated,” Mason said. “The decision to make mask-wearing optional is being made with a week and a half left before school opens; therefore, mask-wearing could become mandatory should we have drastic increases in COVID-19 cases over the next week.”

Mason said school officials would be carefully monitoring COVID-19 data daily, and if there are significant increases in case counts in the county or schools at any point during the school year, masks may become mandatory for all students and staff until cases decrease.

“If it is optional, my kids will most likely decide not to wear masks,” Brittney Reeves said.

“I surely am not going to be the one to make them. I don’t make them wear one anywhere else. I don’t wear one either. Why would I torture them for that long during the day?”

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

Citing 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.

Sherry Hailey said her daughter is fully vaccinated and will not be wearing a mask.

“I’m thankful CCPS has made this decision,” Hailey said.

Laurie Yates said her children would be wearing masks.

“I think it’s wrong they (CCPS) made this decision and announcement while assuring parents procedures would still be in place from last year, after the deadline for being able to be virtual. Way to take away the choice,” Yates said. “On the VDH website, it says they recommend schools require staff and students to mask up, distance and sanitize. Children are getting sick. They can’t get vaccinated. Schools are germ factories.”

In addition to masks wearing CCPS announced the following guidelines:

• Distancing in classrooms and other areas will be maximized to the greatest extent possible. Distancing in some classrooms, cafeterias, school buses, and other areas will be less than three feet due to capacity.

• Disinfecting will take place in classrooms daily and more frequently for highly occupied areas such as cafeterias and restrooms.

• Students and staff with COVID symptoms will be sent home immediately. Again, please do not send your child to school with a fever or other COVD symptoms.

• Parents will be notified if their children have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID in their school.

• Remote instruction for CCPS is being provided only through Virtual Virginia this school year. All students are required to attend school in person five days per week unless the Virtual Virginia option was chosen.