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Virginia health officials release back-to-school mask guidance

RICHMOND, Va. (WVVA) - The Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education have released new guidance for PreK-12 schools for the 2021-2022 school year.

According to VDH, the State Health Commissioner's Public Health Order is in effect until July 25th. It will not be extended, giving school divisions the ability to implement local mask policies.

The Department of Health "strongly recommends" that local school boards adopt the following this year:

  • Elementary schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers, and staff wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccination is available for children under 12 years old and there has been sufficient time to allow for children younger than 12 years old to be fully vaccinated.
  • At a minimum, middle and high schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors. While school divisions regularly confirm school-required immunization records of their students, they should consult with their counsel in determining if and how to confirm student and staff COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • All schools may want to consider universal masking for specific reasons as outlined in certain circumstances by the CDC.
  • All schools should be prepared to adjust local mask policies as local public health conditions evolve throughout the year.

The CDC federal order requiring masks be worn on public transportation remains in effect, and applies to buses operated by Virginia public schools.

Stick with WVVA as we continue to monitor this developing story.

Jade Burks

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