CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Chesterfield School Board unanimously voted to universally require masks in schools on Tuesday night.
The school board was concerned that not much social distancing was possible in schools and masking would be the only way to keep schools open. They cited concerns about the recent spread of the delta variant.
The mandate will apply to students and staff.
Nearly 40 people spoke during the public comment period of the meeting and almost 200 comments were submitted ahead of time.
Ahead of the meeting, numerous protesters gathered outside of the meeting space.
Some protesters were there in support of a mask requirement and others were there against it. On each side of the argument, protesters spoke in support of their cause and carried signs laying out their demands.
Each group had at least 30 participants.
Siblings Avery and Gabriel Walker attended the rally in favor of masking. They told 8News that they have a sister too young to get the vaccine and they don’t want her health “in the hands of every other parent and child in the elementary school.”
On the other side, people chanted things like, “They should not be made to feel guilty for honoring the need to breathe,” and “No! We will not comply!”
Some expressed that people in favor of masking were pro-choice for “everything except this.” One sign at the rally read, “My child, my choice.”
People gathered in support of masks expressed that in order to “be a village” everyone needed to wear a mask in public.
In an update posted to the school’s website last month, school leaders said they were reviewing federal, state and local coronavirus guidance ahead of today’s meeting.
Universal indoor masking is recommended by the CDC for areas experiencing a high transmission of COVID-19. Most parts of the country, including Chesterfield County, have been identified as high risk.