masks in schools

Fairfax County Schools to Require Masks; Here's What Other Districts Say

“Universal masking is a critical factor in ensuring all students can return to our buildings, especially when social distancing is not possible and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations"

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Another school district in the Washington, D.C., area will require face masks in schools this fall. 

Fairfax County Public Schools will require masks for everyone inside schools whenever students are present, regardless of vaccination status, information posted on the school district’s website said Wednesday. 

“Masks will be worn at all times by both staff and students indoors and on school buses, but are not required when eating or when outside during recess, PE, or other activities,” FCPS said to families. “Universal masking is a critical factor in ensuring all students can return to our buildings, especially when social distancing is not possible and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations.” 

People who are fully vaccinated can choose to go maskless indoors when no students are present, or when they are in FCPS offices that are not inside schools. Masks will not be required outdoors.

The school district will regularly review their requirements, they said. 

"I feel like it's totally fine and I'm happy to send them back to school with masks," parent Megan Jaster said.

Last year, if a Fairfax County student or teacher tested positive, the entire class would switch to distance learning for a couple of weeks. Fairfax County Superintendent Scott Brabrand says this year, they'll likely only require the people who test positive to quarantine.

"If there is a need to do something with an individual student - we're not looking at classroom or school-wide closures," Brabrand said.

"There's still going to be challenges, but I think having all the students back in the classroom is just going to be better for wellness, for mental health, to help people get back to some form of normalcy," parent Tiffany Kittrell said.

School districts in Northern Virginia are taking different approaches to mask guidelines. News4's Julie Carey reports.

In new guidance Tuesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended masks indoors for all teachers, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status. They cited startling new information on the ability of the delta variant to spread among vaccinated people.

As COVID-19 vaccination rates stall and the delta variant spreads across the United States, school districts in the D.C. area are announcing their plans on whether to require masks this fall.

Here’s what we know so far about what local school districts will do:

DC: D.C. Public Schools will require masks, officials said Friday. 

Virginia, at the state level: State officials strongly recommend that many students and staff members wear masks inside schools this fall, but they opted to give individual districts flexibility to set rules that take local coronavirus data into account. State health and education officials recommended masks in elementary schools regardless of vaccination status, and in middle and high schools among students and staff who are not fully vaccinated, “at a minimum.”

Charles County: Masks will be mandatory on school buses but optional in school buildings. 

Montgomery County: Face masks will be required for students and staff inside Montgomery County Public Schools this fall regardless of vaccination status, officials said Tuesday. The school board said they endorsed the interim superintendent’s decision in order to protect students and staff. 

Prince George’s County: Masks will be required for students, teachers and staff inside Prince George’s County Public Schools this fall, officials said Monday. Schools CEO Monica Goldson said the vaccination rate among eligible students is still too low, at 50%. 

Spotsylvania County: The school board voted 6-1 on Monday night to strongly urge students in all grades to wear masks this fall. However, parents can submit opt-out forms if they prefer for their child to not wear a mask. 

No decisions have been announced yet in Alexandria, or Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun or Prince William counties. 

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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