Parents fire off at Chesterfield County school board over mask mandate as cases rise across the county

Chesterfield County

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Several parents sounded off over the county’s mask mandate and quarantine policy during a Chesterfield County school board meeting Tuesday night. These concerns come as coronavirus cases climb across county schools.

According to the school division’s COVID-19 dashboard, since Aug 23, 627 positive cases have been reported. As of Sep 13, 2,231 students are in quarantine.

CCPS Superintendent Merv Daugherty said during a presentation the division is sending out constant communication to families and speaking “regularly with the County and State Health Departments to discuss COVID cases, mitigation procedures, quarantine guidelines, and vaccinations/ testing.”

Still, several parents voiced concerns over current COVID policies — including masks.

One mother said her child was exempt from wearing a mask but was later required to use a plexiglass desk partition or a face shield. She claims these measures take away from the child’s privacy and go against guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 “A student’s medical information is supposed to be private, but by putting cumbersome requirements and policies in place, you’re announcing their medical information to the entire school,” she said.

Several other parents cited Virginia Code 1 -240.1, saying the board has overstepped its authority with mandatory masking. This code states that “a parent has the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.”

“You may think of it as a simple mask,” said one mother whose son goes to Cosby High School. “But what you’re doing to these kids is so much worse than catching COVID.”

There was no allotted time for the board to address these concerns during last night’s meeting; however, last month, they approved the mandatory mask policy saying it was best for the health and safety of students and staff.

The decision aligns with current CDC guidance which states that “due to the circulating and highly contagious Delta variant, CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students (age 2 and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.”

On Tuesday, the board also addressed the bus driver shortage that has been causing major delays since the beginning of the school year. To date, the division has received more than 300 applications and 33 drivers are in the training process.

Earlier in the year, the district bumped pay up to $20 an hour.

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