Franklin County changes school mask policy, now requiring documentation for exemptions

Currently, about 1,200 students and staff have mask exemptions without documentation

This is a change from the previously approved policy.

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – There are now some new requirements when it comes to masks in Franklin County schools.

On Monday night, the Franklin County School Board voted to change the district’s mask exemption policy from no proof of documentation to now, having to fill out and turn in a form for either a religious or medical exemption. The change comes since the county has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases.

“We can’t control community spread, but what we were hoping to do by going to the board and asking for these revisions is to reduce the number of quarantined students,” said the school district’s assistant superintendent, Sue Rogers.

Two weeks ago, before the district’s brief move to virtual learning, 1,200 students were quarantined.

Last week, when students returned to the building, that number went down to 415.

Now, a week later, only 274 students are quarantined.

“We do know that in-person learning is key for many of our students. So the ultimate goal is to keep students in school, all of our students in school. And to provide them the education that we know that they deserve,” said Superintendent Dr. Bernice Cobbs.

There are separate exemption forms for students and staff and for religious accommodations or medical exemptions from wearing masks.

Currently, about 1,200 students and staff have mask exemptions without documentation, as opposed to last year’s 15 students who had documented medical exemptions.

“It’s about the appropriate accommodation. If an individual cannot wear a mask, what would be a reasonable accommodation for the individual, “said Cobb.

Mask exemption forms must be turned in to the school’s principal by Monday, September 20.

Families will be notified by Monday, September 27 if their accommodation is approved.

About the Author:

Sydney joined the WSLS 10 News team in June 2021.