To mask or not to mask

Published 8:01 am Friday, July 30, 2021

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All schools in Virginia must make in-person instruction available to students in the 2021-2022 school year, but how that will look for Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) when students return Monday, Aug. 16, is yet to be fully decided.

One issue facing school divisions this fall is mask requirements.

The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) recently released new guidance for pre-K through 12 schools for the upcoming school year.

The interim guidance for COVID-19 prevention in Virginia pre-K through 12 schools reinforces the importance of in-person learning and supports school divisions in making decisions on masking and other prevention measures, as informed by local data and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

According to the VDH, pre-K through 12 schools will make locally informed decisions on masking and prevention measures, as informed by CDC recommendations.

On Monday, Jul. 26, LCPS Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. said a mask mandate would be decided during the Monday, Aug. 9, School Board meeting.

According to the new guidance, elementary schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers and staff wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, until vaccination is available for children under 12 years old and there has been sufficient time to allow for children younger than 12 years old to be fully vaccinated.

At a minimum, middle and high schools should implement a requirement that students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated wear masks indoors.

In addition, all schools should be prepared to adjust local mask policies as local public health conditions evolve throughout the year.

LCPS will open its doors to five days a week of in-person learning in August and will also offer virtual learning for those who do not wish to attend in person.

According to Berkley, LCPS pays for students to attend Virtual Virginia.

“We have a few students who are doing Virtual Virginia full time, and students who are taking foreign language classes will be enrolled in Virtual Virginia,” Berkley said.