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As Fauquier Students Go Back to School, Face Masks Are Optional

Fauquier County Public Schools say masks are recommended, but it's ultimately up to families

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Tens of thousands of students are returning to school in Fauquier County on Wednesday. Unlike many of their peers in Northern Virginia, they aren't required to wear a mask.

“We are just super excited to have all the kids back. This is a day we’ve waited for, for so long,” Leah Shorb, interim principal of Cedar Lee Middle School, said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Fauquier County has high transmission of COVID-19 and face coverings are recommended for everyone over 2 in public, indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status.

Shorb says families can decide how they want to handle masks.

“I’ve talked to parents on both sides of the issue. And I feel comfortable our kids will do what makes their families feel comfortable,” Shorb said. “I have mine ready to go for when we’re inside because it’s strongly recommended.”

Fauquier County Public Schools strongly recommends that students under 12 — who are not yet eligible for COVID-19 vaccines — wear masks in schools and on buses.

Thousands of students in Fauquier County, Virginia, are headed back to classrooms on Wednesday. It's one of the new Northern Virginia-area districts without a mask mandate, but an interim principal at one middle school, Leah Shorb, says she's comfortable that students and families can make the right decisions.

Masks are recommended for older students, staff and visitors on school buses and in buildings.

FCPS says it could mandate face coverings if there is a significant COVID-19 outbreak that leads to many cases or absences.

Currently, there are two active COVID-19 cases among students and none among staff, according to FCPS data.

The school is open five days a week for full-time, in-person learning, but also allows students to apply to the FCPS Virtual Academy.

Students in Spotsylvania County will return to school Thursday and there is a requirement to wear masks.

Here’s what other D.C.-area school districts say about masks:

Washington, D.C. School Mask Requirements

Masks will be required this fall in D.C. public schools.

Maryland School Mask Requirements

Charles County: Charles County Public Schools will require masks at all schools, centers, buildings and facilities regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required on CCPS transportation.

Frederick County: Masks will be required inside schools this fall. They will not be required outdoors but people who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wear them. 

Montgomery County: Face masks will be required for students and staff inside Montgomery County Public Schools this fall regardless of vaccination status. 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. Schools CEO Monica Goldson said the vaccination rate among eligible students is still too low, at 50%. 

Virginia School Mask Requirements

Virginia will require everyone inside K-12 schools to wear a mask as COVID-19 cases surge just as back-to-school season ramps up. Go here for more information.

Alexandria: Alexandria City Public Schools said that masks will be required for everyone inside facilities and in ACPS vehicles, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

ArlingtonArlington Public Schools will require all students and staff to wear masks when they return to the classroom this fall — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Students and teachers don't have to wear masks while eating lunch or outside.

Culpeper County: Masks are required in schools as of Aug. 13 after the state implemented a mandate for schools.

Falls Church City: Falls Church City Public Schools have not yet announced a mask policy.

Fairfax CountyFairfax County Public Schools will require masks for everyone inside schools whenever students are present, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required outdoors.

Fauquier County: Masks are optional, but strongly recommended for students under 12 and encouraged for anyone else in school buildings or on buses.

Loudoun County: Masks will be required in Loudoun County Public Schools, the superintendent announced on Aug. 2. They will be required regardless of vaccination status and not required while outdoors, eating or participating in physical education. 

Manassas: Masks will be required for students, staff and visitors at Manassas City Public Schools inside buildings and on buses, but not outside.

Manassas Park: The masking plan has not yet been announced.

Spotsylvania County: Masks are required indoors at schools for students and staff.

Stafford County: Students, staff, parents, families, visitors and guests will be required to wear a face mask when indoors on school property and when riding school buses at least through Sept. 21. There are exceptions for eating, mask breaks and physical education.

Prince William County: Masks will be required in schools regardless of vaccination status, the school district announced Aug. 2. There are a few exceptions, which you can see here.

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