Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Statewide Public Health Emergency Order Requires Face Masks in K-12 Schools

Two brothers from Yorktown are raising money for the Virginia Peninsula Foodbank with hand-sewn masks (WYDaily/Pixabay)
A Public Health Emergency Order is requiring universal masks in all of Virginia’s k-12 schools. (WYDaily/Pixabay)

STATEWIDE — Yesterday afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam announced a Public Health Emergency Order requiring universal masking in all indoor settings in Virginia’s K-12 schools.

This order reinforces current state law, which requires Virginia schools adhere to mitigation strategies outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of July 28, CDC guidelines include universal masking for all students, teachers, and staff. SB 1303 was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the General Assembly earlier this year, according to an Aug. 12 news release from the Office of the Governor.

“We all share the same goal of keeping our schools open and keeping our students safe,” said Northam in a released statement.

According to the release, 73% of all adults in Virginia have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. As of August 10, 40.3% of 12-15 year-olds in Virginia and 51.7% of 16-17 year olds in Virginia are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to receive any available vaccination, which is one reason CDC updated its guidance to recommend universal masking in all K-12 schools.

“We know that masking is an effective tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19, particularly among children who are not yet eligible for vaccination,” said Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver in a released statement. “As cases rise in our communities, universal masking and other mitigation measures will ensure our schools continue to be the safest place for Virginia’s children.”

“The vast majority of school districts have chosen to follow the CDC and keep their school communities safe,” said State Superintendent Dr. James Lane in a released statement. “Universal masking has worked in school settings across Virginia for the past year and a half, and it remains a critical part of our safety protocols.”

To read the Public Health Emergency Order, click here.

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