DC-area schools revise classroom, bus mask policies

Following new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shift focus on positive test results and more on what’s happening at hospitals, D.C.-area schools are revising their mask policies in classrooms and buses.

This list will be updated as more schools update their policies and as community transmission changes.


Students, staff and visitors to D.C. public schools will no longer have to wear masks when outdoors at schools. They’re still required while indoors.

And the attendance limits for sporting events, performances and student showcases have also been lifted. Masks will still be required at indoor events, and individual schools can still set limits on individual events if they want.


Alexandria City

Masks will be optional for students starting on Tuesday, March 1 in Alexandria City Public Schools.

However, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks at all times.

Arlington County

Come Tuesday, March 1, masks will be optional for Arlington Public School students.

According to WTOP news partner NBC Washington, the school system is working on an official system that will track who has opted out of masks.

Culpeper County

Starting on Monday, Feb. 28, mask wearing will be optional on school buses and in CCPS vehicles.

Following Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order, masks became optional for Culpeper County school and staff on Jan. 18.

Fairfax County

Beginning Tuesday, March 1, masks will be optional for students in Fairfax County Public Schools.

“Based on these new metrics and CDC guidance, FCPS will now adjust our roll back plan and allow everyone – staff and parents/guardians of FCPS students – to make a choice whether or not they will wear a mask, a letter to the community released Sunday said.

Visitors will not be required to wear masks.

Face coverings will also still required on school buses, when participating in the county’s test-to-stay program and when returning to school on day six of a 10-day quarantine.

The school system said masking requirements will remain in place after March 1 for Fort Belvoir Elementary School because it is on a military base. The school, HeadStart and Early HeadStart, are under federal requirements.

Fauquier County 

Mask wearing on buses will be optional for students and drivers on buses starting on Monday, Feb. 28.

On Jan. 24, masks became optional for students and staff in Fauquier County Public Schools after the school board voted to lift the mandate. Contact tracing also was discontinued at that time.

Students who test positive for COVID-19 in Fauquier County schools must remain home for a minimum of five days. If symptoms are improving and the student has been fever-free for 24-hours without medication, they can return on day six and will wear a mask in school on days six through 10, according to the updated policy.

Loudoun County

Masks have been optional for Loudoun County Public Schools students since Feb. 17.

The school system originally planned to make masks optional on Feb. 22, but that was moved up to Feb. 17 after a judge ruled in favor of three parents who sued the school board over the mandate’s irreparable harm and the board’s lack of constitutional authority to issue the mandate.

Prince William County

Masks are now optional for employees and volunteers in Prince William County schools.

Effective immediately, masks are now optional for all PWCS employees and volunteers working in classrooms, a letter from Prince William County Public Schools said Friday, Feb. 25.

As the new CDC guidelines say that school systems may choose to require that people wear masks on buses or vans, Prince William County schools said that masks are also optional for students and staff in school buses.

The school system said it will adjust requirements should the community level change, and those who prefer to continue wearing masks may do so, per the CDC.

Masks continue to be required for adults and students in Head Start pre-K classrooms.

For more information and guidance, visit the Prince William County Public Schools website.


Anne Arundel County

Masks will not be required for those transported by bus to Anne Arundel County public schools starting on Monday, Feb. 28, according to the school district.

In a letter to families and employees, the district said that this change will include school buses and transportation for school-related programs in the district.

Masks will continue to be required for all indoor settings, federal property (including Meade Heights Elementary School, and clinical health settings per CDC guidelines.

Charles County

The county’s Board of Education voted to eliminate the mask mandate in public schools. Masks are no longer required in any school system building, and is optional for students, staff and visitors.

The board also voted in favor of eliminating the required use of masks on school buses effective immediately, following CDC guidelines.

Students, staff and visitors may continue to wear masks in schools, buildings and on school buses. You can download a document that lists the new policy’s impact here.

Howard County

Masks will be optional in Howard County Public Schools starting on March 1. The Howard County Board of Education voted to make face coverings optional at its Feb 24 meeting.

Any student, staff or visitor may choose to wear a mask, and should feel comfortable doing so, the school system said. Anyone on a school bus will still be required to wear a mask.

Frederick County

Effective Feb. 26, face covering will be encouraged but no longer required on school buses.

The school system started no longer requiring masks inside public school buildings on Friday, Feb. 25.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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