Aug 12, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Virginia to require masks for students, school staff

Children, some wearing face masks as a preventive measure, pick up free lunch
Children, some wearing face masks as a preventive measure, pick up free lunch at a school in Arlington, Virginia on March 16, 2020. Photo: Andrew Canallero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

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.

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.

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