Virginia’s smallest county set to defy school mask mandate

The Highland County School Board rejected a proposal to require masks

Woman holding a mask (Pexels)

HIGHLAND COUNTY, Va. – On Thursday night, hours after Virginia issued a universal mask mandate for all schools, one school board voted to not follow suit.

While the public health order issued by state health commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver requires that “all individuals aged two and older to wear maks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools in order to inhibit spread of the virus, as recommended and described by the CDC,” that’s not the plan in Highland County.

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With a population of about 2,200 people, it’s the smallest locality in all of Virginia.

The Highland County School Board did not accept the presented COVID-19 mitigation plan, rather, its members adopted a policy that will have masks be optional for the school year, according to Superintendent Dr. Thomas Schott.

[Here are the 7 exceptions to Virginia’s newly-issued mask mandate for schools]

The presented plan would have required the following:

  • All students, staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status will be required to wear a mask while indoors.
  • Masks MUST be worn on the school bus or while in any school vehicle.
  • Only visitors that have an appointment will be allowed into the school. All visitors to the schools MUST wear a mask while in the school building.

Schott said that a letter will now be sent home to parents for them to state their choice for their children.

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

When asked if he had any further comment about the board’s vote, he replied to 10 News in an email, “None at this time.”

The first day of school for students in Highland County is September 7. Teacher workdays are scheduled to begin on August 23.

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