UPDATE: 2:12 p.m. Aug. 12, 2021
On Thursday, Aug. 12, a new public health order was issued in Virginia requiring all students and staff in K-12 schools to wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
Below is the list of the mask mandates schools across the area chose to implement before the order.
VIRGINIA (WRIC) — The Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health updated the COVID-19 guidance for the upcoming school year in July. The state is not extending its mask mandates for schools, instead, localities will be able to decide what COVID-19 health strategies to implement.
Last week, Governor Northam shifted health guidance for PreK-12 schools to align with CDC guidance, recommending all students and staff mask up, regardless of vaccination status.
Here’s the latest from local school districts:
Board members from Amelia County Public Schools approved a motion for a universal mask mandate at their meeting on Monday, August 9.
Caroline County Schools voted 4-2 to require universal mask wearing for all PK-12 students, staff and visitors inside school buildings. That requirement takes effect on August 10.
Due to a federal order from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention related to public transportation, CCPS students and staff must wear a mask on school busses.
The Chesterfield School Board unanimously voted to universally require masks in schools on Tuesday night.
The mandate will apply to students and staff.
Colonial Heights Public Schools said they are in the process of reviewing the new guidelines and will make a decision later on.
CHPS posted a survey on their Facebook page collecting responses from families regarding mask-wearing for the 2021-2022 school year. The survey closed on August 10 at 8 a.m.
The Dinwiddie County School Board unanimously voted to require masks for students and staff members at a meeting on Tuesday.
Dinwiddie County Schools students will return for the school year on Sept. 7. To start off the school year, everyone in the school building will wear masks for most of the day. They will also be required at all times on school buses.
Goochland County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Raley said in a message to families that given that Senate Bill 1303 was signed into law by Gov. Northam it has taken away their ability to make their own decisions regarding COVID mitigation strategies.
“This law and its specific reference to the mitigation strategies provided by the CDC, will require all students and adults to wear masks while indoors and on our school buses, regardless of their vaccination status when school starts on August 23,” Dr. Raley wrote.
Students and staff will not wear masks while eating or drinking and will not be required to wear masks while exercising or while outdoors.
The Hanover School Board decided to allow families and staff the option of wearing masks in schools in a close vote during a heated meeting on Tuesday night. Masks will be optional regardless of vaccination status in the school buildings and outdoors.
The motion to make masks an individual choice passed in a 4-3 vote. The only exception will be school buses where everyone is federally mandated to wear a mask.
Hopewell City Public School students and staff will be required to wear masks during the school day regardless of vaccination status.
According to HCPS’ health mitigation strategies, when working for a sustained period with students within 6 feet, staff should also use a face shield. When students are not in the building, mask-wearing will be tied to vaccination status.
King William County Public Schools said in a letter that their board voted unanimously to open up schools five days per week with masks optional.
Students transported by a KWCPS school bus must wear a mask due to the federal mandate.
“The approach for optional masks assumes that we will all demonstrate tolerance and acceptance of each other and the decision to wear, or not to wear, a mask,” Superintendent David White wrote.
Louisa County Public Schools is requiring that students and staff wear masks regardless of vaccination status. Breaks will be available to students throughout the day and students and staff will not be required to wear one outside.
Petersburg City Public Schools said they will continue to implement safety protocols and practices throughout their school buildings.
“Staff will review the VDH guidance that was shared with school divisions yesterday to determine specific next steps for the 2021-2022 school year,” PCPS said in an email to 8News.
Powhatan County Public Schools announced to families in an August 5 letter, that masks will be required for students and staff while inside school buildings and busses.
Prince George County Public Schools is recommending and encouraging mask use at schools but will not be requiring them.
“It is the intent of PGCPS to respect the rights of our families, faculty, and staff in providing choice on the use of masks and/or face coverings to the extent that the health of the community and the law will allow,” the school system said in an email to 8News.
Richmond Public Schools will be maintaining a mask-wearing policy for all students, staff and visitors despite health and school experts allowing more leniency.
“We will be maintaining our 100% mask-wearing policy for all students, staff, and visitors,” RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said in a letter to families. “We feel this is the safest course of action, particularly with the surging Delta variant.”
Kamras encourages anyone ages 12 and older to get vaccinated.