PORTSMOUTH, Va (WAVY) — There are more smiling faces visible in Hampton Roads schools this week as several districts make masks optional. Hampton, Isle of Wight, Accomack and York Counties made the change Tuesday.

“It’s time to look at the way forward rather than concentrating on what’s happened in the past,” Virginia’s Acting Health Commissioner, Dr. Colin Greene told 10 On Your Side.

Dr. Greene said masks don’t appear to be effective in stopping Omicron and kids have never been at high risk of severe disease.

“As a matter of fact, its more likely in Virginia for a child to die in a motor vehicle accident than it is to die of Covid,” Dr. Greene said.

Two of Hampton Roads’ largest school districts, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, made masks optional a month ago. 10 On Your side looked at the number of Covid cases reported in those schools since the change.

Covid numbers in both districts are low. Chesapeake reports 230 cases in the last 14 days.
Virginia Beach has 556 reports of Covid in February out of nearly 64,000 students.

Still, some parents of high-risk students are worried. Katie Kaine of Chesapeake who we first spoke with in January, told 10 On Your Side today that she upgraded to KF94 masks in an effort to protect her youngest child.

CHKD pediatrician, Dr. Doug Michtell told 10 On Your side Monday night that there is now a concern for children developing a complication of Covid called MISC.

“We are still seeing hospitalizations in pediatric patients.” Said Dr. Mitchell.

Mitchell added that just because masks aren’t required, it doesn’t mean you have to stop wearing one.

“Honestly, I would ask them to remember that it’s not 2020 anymore. This is a milder form of coronavirus, there is a vaccine to prevent most severe cases of Covid,” says Dr. Green as many parents weigh their options.

Both doctors agree: vaccination is the best defense.

Virginians who have not been fully vaccinated, or are eligible for booster doses, can visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA (877) 829-4682 to find nearby vaccination clinics.

Those seeking to find or schedule a testing appointment can visit vase.vdh.virginia.gov/testingappointment.