Virginia to require masks for students, school staff
Students, teachers and other staff members will be required to wear masks in Virginia schools, following a public health order issued by the state health commissioner Thursday.
Why it matters: The order comes as the United States is seeing a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and as hospitals are sounding the alarm about an increasing number of kids landing in the hospital after contracting the virus.
- The order further clarifies the meaning of a law passed this year that requires schools in Virginia to follow CDC guidance to the “maximum extent practicable," per the Virginian Pilot.
- “I don’t know that it can be any simpler than that — it’s the law of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and I expect our school districts to follow the law,” Gov. Ralph Northam said last week, per the Pilot.
Driving the news: Many of the children preparing to head back for in-person schooling this fall are without the protection of vaccination.
- The latest numbers from the American Academy of Pediatrics show there were nearly 94,000 cases of COVID.
- Republican governors and lawmakers across the U.S. continue to balk at mask mandates in schools, with the states of Florida and Texas facing criticism for barring their school districts from requiring masks.
What they're saying: "[U]niversal and correct mask use is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy in schools as part of a multicomponent approach and has been shown to be associated with lower incidence of COVID-19 in schools," according to the order.