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Universal masking to be required in Franklin County schools as leaders change initial decision

Those with religious or health reasons are exempt with no required documentation

The Franklin County School Board voted to require masks for the upcoming school year, despite a vote last month, making masking a “parent choice.”

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – Monday night, the Franklin County School Board voted to require masks for the upcoming school year, despite a vote last month, making masking a “parent choice.”

The board came to a new, unanimous decision after hours of public comment and heated discussion.

“I would move to require masks K-12 with exemptions for religious and health reasons with no required documentation,” said school board member, Perry Hambrick.

The change comes after Governor Ralph Northam’s news conference Thursday when he announced schools who do not follow CDC guidance could face legal action. The CDC recommends teachers and students wear masks while inside, no matter their vaccination status.

The district’s attorney, Steve Maddy addressed the board saying, “As a lawyer, you never want to tell your client to break the law, it’s a law. So my recommendation would be to follow the law.”

Parents packed the room during Monday night’s meeting, many fighting against masks in schools, and begging the board not to go back on their original vote of optional masking.

“Parents have already told you how they feel. And if there is a way to leave this decision to the parents like you have already voted on then allow the parents to decide for their own child,” said one parent, Robin Goodman.

But after the board unanimously voted to allow exemptions without documentation, cheers erupted from the crowd.

Find a full list of schools in the region and their mask requirements, here.


About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.