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Gov. Northam says Virginia schools not following CDC masking guidance could face legal action

He also announced that state employees need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 1

Gov. Ralph Northam announced new coronavirus guidance for the Commonwealth as cases begin to increase.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced new coronavirus guidance for the Commonwealth as cases begin to increase.

ROANOKE, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam announced new coronavirus guidance for the Commonwealth as cases begin to increase once again.

Now, most employees with the state of Virginia will now have to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Northam announced the decision during a Thursday press conference and said it’s the best way to protect everyone as cases rise across the state.

“We have around 120,000 people who are employed by the state of Virginia speaking as the head of that workforce, I want everyone to be as safe and protected as possible,” Northam said.

That includes the Virginia Employment Commission, Department of Motor Vehicles and Department of Transportation, and some staff at public colleges and universities.

“I am directing this measure to keep state employees safe and to keep the people that we serve, safe I really encourage local governments and private companies to do the same thing,” Northam said.

During the news conference, Northam also discussed how school divisions are preparing for the upcoming school year.

The governor says schools not following masking guidance from the CDC could be facing legal action.

Watch the governor’s full news conference from August 5, 2021, below:

Gov. Ralph Northam is scheduled to give an update on the coronavirus in the commonwealth on Thursday afternoon.
Gov. Ralph Northam is scheduled to give an update on the coronavirus in the commonwealth on Thursday afternoon.

“Local school divisions are taking the lead, including mask-wearing and mitigation measures in their school we expect them to follow the law,” Northam said.

That law is Senate Bill 1303 passed earlier this year.

It outlines that local school divisions can return to in-person learning if they follow the recommendations set by the CDC.

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

“The CDC guidance is that people in school need to be wearing masks,” Northam said.

As many of the local school boards in our region have chosen to make masks optional it’s unclear whether or not they will have to go back on those decisions.

“I expect school divisions to follow. If they choose not to follow, they should have a frank discussion with their legal counsel,” Northam said.

State employees have until Sept. 1 to show proof of vaccination.


About the Author:

Annie Schroeder joined the 10 News team as a reporter in June 2020 and is no stranger to Southwest Virginia.