The diocese sent a letter to families Thursday detailing the latest decision, which coincides with newly-elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order 2. The order ends the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate in K-12 schools beginning Jan. 24 and makes face coverings optional.
While the governor’s order allows divisions to make masks optional, there’s still a state law that requires schools to follow mitigation measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Diocese of Richmond noted in the letter to families Thursday that the CDC still recommends indoor
masking for all students over the age of 2, staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of their vaccination status. The diocese encouraged staff, parents and students to follow CDC guidance, but said the decision is ultimately up to parents.
Unvaccinated school staff will need to wear masks except in certain circumstances.
The optional mask policy also doesn’t apply to school buses. A nationwide CDC order requires students, bus drivers and passengers to wear masks while on the bus.
The diocese outlined the circumstances under which students would need to wear a mask, as well as quarantine procedures if they’re exposed to or test positive for COVID-19.
On Thursday night, Chesapeake Public Schools also decided to make masks optional starting Monday. Poquoson made a similar decision earlier this week.