All students in Fauquier County Public Schools must wear face masks starting Monday or provide a doctor’s note to be medically exempted from the school district's updated policy.
"This mask requirement will remain in place to protect our students and staff along with our instructional goals until our numbers of positive cases and quarantines significantly decrease," the county school board said in a letter to parents Sunday night.
At the start of the school year, the district said masks were optional, and about 15% of Fauquier students opted out of wearing them. Then, COVID-19 cases steadily climbed.
Superintendent Dr. David Jeck implored those families to reconsider.
"This is a hot button issue relative to politics and political leanings and, frankly,
I don’t care about any of those. I’m not interested in them. What I'm interested in is keeping our kids in school and keeping them safe," Jeck said on Aug. 17.
Soon after that plea, the school system announced that 370 students and three employees were in quarantine.
Some parents said Monday they were glad the school system now requires masks.
"I think it’s a step in the right direction, and I think it is what we are going to need in order to bring cases down, but a lot of that is going to be compliance. How many are actually going to comply to that? How many schools are actually going to enforce it?" parent Mike Hammond said
Hammond said cases were so high in the region last summer that the district had to begin the school year virtually. He believes the new mask guidelines, coupled with the FDA’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine, will prevent a return to those days.
"Every layer that we can add on top of this is going to keep us safer and keep the kids in school longer," he said.
The school district says the mask requirement will be in effect for at least two weeks.