BOTETOURT COUNTY, Va. – Two school districts in Southwest Virginia just voted to make masking optional this upcoming school year, Botetourt County and Franklin County.
On Monday night, cheers erupted during the Franklin County School Board meeting when the board voted to make masking optional for the upcoming school year.
“Vaccination is a family choice. So that’s kind of where we are basing our decision for the masking,” said the district’s director of operations Jason Guilliams.
The Franklin County School Board passed the motion 6-1 with board member John Atchue saying it’s too risky to have unvaccinated people unmasked.
“You think if we are caught in a pouring rain storm and we get soaking wet, it’s a bit late to think we should have brought an umbrella. So the time to protect our community is before this gets worse again, not after. I do not accept this proposal as it stands,” he said.
The Botetourt County School Board came to a similar decision on Tuesday morning, voting to make masking optional for the upcoming school year.
“This is as of right now. We are keeping a close eye on numbers, local numbers. If mandates come down from the governor, that could all change,” said Botetourt County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. John Russ.
Although the Botetourt School Board voted unanimously to make masking optional among students and staff, there will still be other mitigation efforts in place.
“Our health plan is going to be similar to last year other than the required mask. We will still socially distance when possible,” said Russ.
On Tuesday evening, Roanoke County Public Schools announced its mask policy for the upcoming school year.
“Absent a mandate, students’ choice about mask wearing (or not) will be fully supported within the school environment,” the announcement stated.