New CDC guidance, Virginia law require mask mandate in K-12 public schools

All students, teachers, staff, visitors to wear masks indoors

Confusion over mask requirements have Virginia schools scrambling.

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Days before classes start, the Roanoke County School Board will now require masks for everyone this fall - vaccinated or not.

Angry parents gathered outside the school board office Friday morning protesting the move. Roanoke County parent Kristen Collins said the decision should be hers.

“This is America and the school board works for us. The government works for us. Not the other way around,” said Collins.

New CDC guidance updated Thursday recommends universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status.

A Virginia law passed earlier this year, Senate Bill 1303, requires school districts to follow CDC guidance to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, meaning this new CDC guidance is now law.

Board Chairman Jason Moretz said he had to keep that in mind.

[LIST: Which schools are requiring masks and which are not across Southwest, Central Virginia]

“The advice from our attorney is that we need to follow the letter of the law,” said Moretz.

A Virginia Department of Education spokesperson told 10 News, “Updated guidance for school divisions is being prepared in light of the new information from the CDC and will be released later this month.”

In an email to school division superintendents sent Thursday, Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James Lane reminded districts about the law. He also reminded school leaders about the requirement that masks be worn on public transportation, including on school buses.

With the new school year looming, Moretz said the board has to do what’s in the best interest of its students.

“If we’re truly trying to do what’s in the best interest of our students and we want them in the classroom, I think having the kids wear a mask so that we can significantly reduce those quarantine levels and keep those kids in the classroom, I mean, that’s a good thing,” said Moretz.

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