VDH says masks still must be worn by children in school; new order effective through July 25


FILE – In this May 18, 2021, file photo, kindergarten students wear masks and are separated by plexiglass during a math lesson at the Milton Elementary School, in Rye, N.Y. School districts across the United States are hiring additional teachers in anticipation of what will be one of the largest kindergarten classes ever as enrollment rebounds following the pandemic. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia officials have extended the requirement for children to wear masks in schools through July 25.

Virginia Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver issued the order, which is effective July 1. It requires children ages 5 and over to wear masks while indoors at both public and private K-12 schools.

Virginia’s state of emergency ended Wednesday, June 30.

Some school divisions have been looking for guidance from the state on mask-wearing as they prepare for the upcoming school year and handle summer school. In Chesapeake, officials said they would remove the mask mandate on school grounds so long as state law allowed it. In Virginia Beach, administrators have decided students will be in the classroom full-time next school year, but are waiting for state guidance on what safety measures should be in place.

The Virginia Department of Health sent out information about the school-related mask order in a news release Thursday that reminded Virginians that wearing masks are an effective and legal way to protect themselves and others.

“Even when not required, people who are fully vaccinated should continue to wear masks whenever they would be more comfortable doing so,” the VDH said in the news release.

Virginians are allowed to wear masks for health reasons. However, wearing a mask with the intent to conceal one’s identity — such as wearing one to rob a bank — is illegal.

In addition, masks are still required by federal law in some places such as planes, buses (including school buses), trains, and other forms of public transportation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people still wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially those over the age of 2 who are not fully vaccinated. The CDC also says those with weakened immune systems should keep wearing masks.

The VDH said wearing masks could be especially important because the Delta COVID-19 variant is now in Virginia.

“Although current COVID-19 vaccines appear to be effective against the Delta variant, additional mitigation measures (such as wearing masks, keeping distance from others, washing hands frequently, and cleaning surfaces) help lower risk even more,” the VDH said.

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