ROANOKE, Va. – On Thursday, August 12, Virginia issued a universal mask mandate for K-12 schools Thursday.
The mandate came in the form of a public health order from the state health commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver.
While this mandate supersedes the previous decisions by area school divisions, we’ll still leave the list below accessible so you know how schools would have acted without the mandate.
The upcoming school year for students in Southwest and Central Virginia is swiftly approaching, and an update in CDC mask guidelines has many families asking will my child be required to wear a mask while at school?
With Virginia giving the authority to make mask decisions to local school boards, 10 News asked reached out to all 36 school divisions in our coverage area to find out what policy each one is putting into place.
A news conference by Gov. Ralph Northam on August 5 threw another wrench in the machine as many schools since then have changed their policy as the governor threatened legal action against schools that do not follow the CDC guidance for K-12 schools of having everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask while indoors.
As of now, 36 school divisions are requiring masks and one will have a mask-optional policy.
As a note, schools are still under a federal mandate to have students and staff mask up while on school buses.
Below, you can find a list of how each school district plans to tackle masking:
Masks required - 36 school divisions
Alleghany County Public Schools
- During its August 16 meeting, the school board approved the school division’s health mitigation plan which requires face coverings/masks pursuant to the Virginia State Health Commissioner Order of August 12.
Amherst County Public Schools
- On August 12, after the public health order was issued, the school division announced that all faculty, staff, students and visitors will be required to wear face coverings while inside any school building.
- On July 29, the school policy was that masks would be optional for students and staff.
- On Aug. 6, Superintendent Rob Arnold told 10 News that the ACPS school board is currently seeking legal counsel and will make a decision about COVID-19 mitigation by the end of the week.
Appomattox County Public Schools
- On August 9, the school division changed its policy to begin the school year with masks being required for all students, staff, and visitors inside our schools and on school buses
- When the now-changed previous mask-optional policy was announced on July 23, Superintendent Dr. Annette Bennett told 10 News that she will have the authority to make changes to this practice based on VDH data related to positive case identification and vaccination rates in the community.
- On August 13, Superintendent Sue Hirsh told 10 News that the school division now plans to comply with the heath order requiring universal masking
- On August 3, the school division was strongly recommending indoor masking; however, it was optional for students and staff.
- All students, staff, teachers and visitors to any of the district’s schools will be required to wear a mask, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.
- This applies to all upcoming open houses, orientations and other gatherings prior to the start of the school year.
- Initially, on July 27, school officials said masks will not be required; however, on August 6, Botetourt County schools issued a statement saying it will abide by CDC’s updated guidelines.
- On Thursday, July 29, the school board voted 4-3 to not require masks in schools; however, on Sunday, August 8, the school board updated the school division’s health and safety mitigations to follow the recent changes in guidance from the CDC, governor’s office and state officials
- At this time, masks must be worn by all students, staff, teachers and visitors, regardless of vaccination status
- The new mask policy applies to all upcoming open houses, orientations and other gatherings
- To begin the school year, masks will be required for all
- On August, 16, the school board approved a plan to require masks for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
- Prior to that, the school division was operating on a plan that required all students and staff in pre-K through 6th grade to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status; however, students and staff in grades 7-12 were only required to wear masks indoors if they have not been vaccinated. (Policy as of July 26)
- On August 11, the school division announced that masks will be required for all individuals inside of schools, regardless of vaccination status.
- Previously, the school division had planned to begin the school year, strongly recommends the wearing of masks; however, mask-wearing was voluntary for all staff and students is voluntary.
- Carroll County Public Schools announced on August 9 a revised mask strategy after several students tested positive for COVID-19 at the Back to School Bash on August 5
- All faculty, staff, students and visitors over the age of two will be required to wear a mask in all areas
- On August 6, the school changed its previous mask decision
- Superintendent Robbie Mason told us that Charlotte County Public Schools will now require its students, staff and visitors will be required to wear a mask to begin the school year on Monday, Aug. 9
Covington City Public Schools
- On August 17, the Coving City School Board approved a Health Mitigation Plan that follows the public health order issued August 12 requiring universal masking inside school buildings.
Craig County Public Schools
- On August 17, the school board voted to adopt a universal mask-wearing policy, in line with the public health order issued on August 12.
- Previously, on August 9, the school board voted during a special meeting to make the wearing of masks optional for the upcoming school year, Superintendent Jeanette Day Warwick told 10 News.
- In a 7-0 vote, Danville Public School leaders decided on August 5 to mandate masks for all students, faculty, staff and visitors in all Danville schools.
- The school board says the policy may change if COVID-19 cases start to decline again.
- On August 9, the school division announced an updated policy, requiring masks be worn by everyone inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
- Back on August 3, the school division announced that masking would be optional for all inside school buildings.
- Masks will be required for all students, staff, faculty and visitors at all Franklin County Schools.
- The school board said there is an exemption to masking for those with religious and medical reasons. Those individuals do not have to provide documentation.
Galax City Public Schools
- The school board voted to require universal masking. The topic will be revisited at each monthly school board meeting.
- The school board voted to require universal masking.
- On August 10, the school division announced a new policy, with indoor masking required for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status. Those with medical documentation of exemption provided by a licensed physician will not need to wear a mask.
- Back on July 26, the school division announced that the decision to wear a mask would be left up to students. as to whether to wear a mask or not.
- All students, teachers, staff, and visitors must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while on school property
- Among the exceptions are those exercising or using exercise equipment
Henry County Public Schools
- At this time, the school’s plan requires everyone in the instructional setting to wear masks.
- As the year progresses, division leaders will examine local COVID-19 data to determine whether to continue mask-wearing or give vaccinated people the option to not wear a mask.
- Masks will not be required while eating, during physical activity or while outdoors.
- Families who have a medical concern are encouraged to contact the school principal or School Nurse Coordinators Sherry Vestal and Beth Troncoso at 540-634-4700.
- The school board approved universal mask wearing for all students, faculty, staff and visitors while inside school buildings on August 11.
- Lynchburg City School Board voted 7-2 to mandate masks indoors for all students, staff and visitors regardless of their age and vaccination status during its August 3 meeting.
- Depending on the number of cases as the year progresses, the school board plans to revisit the mask policies.
- The school system will have a COVID-19 team that will monitor metrics daily as well as contact traces.
- Masks will be required for all students and staff (Policy announced August 3)
- Montgomery County Schools will have universal masking for students while indoors
- Staff members must wear a mask while in the presence of students
- The School Board will review local health data again at their meeting on Sept. 7 (Policy announced Aug. 3)
Nelson County Public Schools
- Facial coverings are required for all persons inside school buildings
Patrick County Public Schools
- On August 12, Superintendent Dean Gilbert told 10 News the school division will comply with the public health order requiring universal masking inside school buildings.
- On August 9, the school board held a special-called meeting and came to the decision that students and staff are strongly encouraged to wear masks as recommended by the CDC guidelines while inside schools.
Pittsylvania County Public Schools
- Superintendent Dr. Mark Jones told 10 News on August 11 that masks are required for students and staff while school is in session and while on school buses.
- The school board voted 4-1 on August 10 to require masks inside all school buildings.
Radford City Schools
- On August 10, the school board voted unanimously for universal masking indoors for Pre-K-12 students and teachers beginning August 16 regardless of vaccination status.
Roanoke City Public Schools
- Starting Monday, August 9, face masks will be required for all Roanoke City Public Schools students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, where medically and developmentally appropriate (Policy announced August 7)
- This requirement will be effective through the first nine weeks of school or until further notice
- Face coverings will not be required when exercising, eating or when outdoors
Roanoke County Public Schools
- On August 6, Roanoke County Public Schools reversed its mask decision. On July 27, it said masks would be recommended; however, the school board voted 3-2 to require masks for students and staff
- On August 10, the school board voted 5-0, updating its COVID-19 mitigation plan so that masks will be universally required for students, staff, teachers and visitors while inside school buildings, regardless of vaccination status.
- On July 26, the school board announced that those who were fully vaccinated would not need to wear a mask.
- On August 10, the school board approved the school division’s mitigation plan, which matches CDC guidelines, requiring masks for everyone while inside school buildings
Tazewell County Public Schools
- All faculty, staff and students will be required to wear masks while indoors and on buses
- This applies to everyone regardless of vaccination status
- The board will revisit the use of masks in its September meeting
- Wythe County schools plan to follow the public health order requiring universal masking inside school buildings.
Masks optional - One school division
- The school board voted on August 12 to reject a proposed policy that would have required universal masking and decided to make masks optional and also sending a letter home to parents for them to state their choice for their children.