Mixed reactions from parents as Craig County schools makes adjustments to mask policy

The board believes the adjustments will serve the population best

Craig County schools took the necessary steps to follow the governor's order on masks Tuesday with some exemptions.

CRAIG COUNTY, Va. – Craig County schools took the necessary steps to align with Governor Ralph Northam’s K-12 masking policy. The school board made adjustments to the exemption forms Tuesday during their special called meeting.

Northam issued a universal mask mandate for K-12 schools on August 12.

The board approved the Craig County Public Schools health plan for the 2021-2022 school year, Monday, Aug. 9.

It was a war of words and opinions, but the board ultimately made adjustments they believe will serve their population best.

“We financially cannot afford to do that if the state were to decide to pull our funding. We are dependent on state funding whether we like it or not. We are a small County, and we need the help from the state to keep this system running,” said one parent in support of masks during the meeting.

“I would never put my children in school where child abuse is the policy of the institution,” said another parent who does not support masking during the meeting.

While the governor’s order does apply to all individuals, it does include seven exceptions.

Masks are not required while inside a school building at the following times:

  • When eating, drinking or sleeping
  • When exercising or using exercise equipment
  • When playing a musical instrument that would be unplayable with a mask on (wind or brass) so long as 6 feet of physical distance can be maintained from other persons
  • Anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a mask without assistance
  • Anyone who has a disability or meets at-risk criteria or those assisting such persons, including individuals with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 plan under the Rehabilitation Act, where wearing a mask would inhibit communication or the receiving of services
  • When necessary to participate in a religious ritual
  • Persons with health conditions or disabilities that prohibit wearing a mask. Adaptations and alternatives for individuals with health conditions or disabilities should be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a mask to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one.

The board made some changes to the religious and health exemption forms. They approved the removal of a physician’s signature from the health form but will require documentation explaining the medical reasoning. The same goes for the religious form. Parents will need to detail the religious reasoning.

About the Author:

McKinley Strother joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2020. He anchors 10 News at 6 and 11 on Saturdays and Sundays and you'll also catch him reporting during the week.