Whether students are required to wear masks differs across school districts in Northern Virginia.
Families will be able to opt out of school mask mandates starting March 1, in line with a bill new Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law on Feb. 16.
“Today we are restoring power back to parents," Youngkin said before a crowd of children outside the state capitol.
New guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Feb. 25 changed the plan for schools nationally. Healthy people can take a break from wearing masks in areas where the risk of COVID is low, the CDC said.
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Here’s what Northern Virginia school districts have said about their mask policies before March 1:
Alexandria City Public Schools
Wearing masks will be optional for students beginning March 1.
Staff and approved volunteers/visitors must continue to wear masks in schools, facilities and vehicles, the school system said.
Arlington Public Schools
Starting March 1, Arlington schools will follow the CDC guidance issued Feb. 25 on masks in schools, the superintendent said in a message to families on Feb. 28. Masks will be optional since Arlington is listed as having a low COVID-19 community level. No form will be required for opting out.
“Mask-wearing is a personal decision based on individual circumstances, and I ask everyone to support our students and each other,” Superintendent Francisco Durán said.
Fairfax County Public Schools
Starting March 1, parents and guardians can elect for their children not to wear masks on school property.
"As a school division, we continue to be concerned about the health of our Fairfax community and strongly recommend that all students continue to participate in universal masking for the protection of students and staff with health concerns," Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a letter to families.
The school systems said universal mask wearing is still required in the following scenarios:
• On school buses/vans
• During off-campus activities where masks are required by the venue
• Students enrolled in Head Start Program
• When attending school on days 6-10 of a quarantine
• When participating in Test to Stay
Loudoun County Public Schools
A Loudoun County judge granted a temporary injunction Feb. 16 that made masks in Loudoun public schools optional immediately. This came after three parents in the county filed suit against the school board, arguing the mask policy caused their children irreparable harm and claiming that a school board doesn't have the constitutional authority to implement a mask mandate.
The judge's order moved up the timeline for making masks optional in Loudoun schools. Previously, the school system had said it had planned to make the change starting Feb. 22.
Prince William County Public Schools
Students are no longer required to wear masks in school effective Tuesday, Feb. 22. Masks continue to be required on buses and in Head Start and pre-K classrooms.
"We recognize that these changes are welcomed by some, and cause uncertainty for others," a letter from the superintendent to families, employees and the community said. "The health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff, and the continuity of in-person instruction, remain our highest priorities."
Stafford County Public Schools
The Stafford County School Board board voted 5-2 this month to end the mandate Feb. 22.