Fairfax Co., Alexandria to keep mask requirement in schools

Virginia’s largest school system said Friday it will continue to require masks when classes resume Tuesday, despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order that removed school mask requirements across the state.

In a letter to families, Fairfax County Public Schools Superintendent Scott Brabrand said the school system requires “everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask inside our buildings and on our school buses, except when alone in a room.” The requirement covers staff, students and visitors.

Youngkin’s executive order calls for parents to be able to opt out of mask requirements implemented by teachers, schools, school districts or the Department of Education. Many Northern Virginia counties have opted to maintain their current mask guidance.

After the order was issued, a group of 13 parents with children in Chesapeake Public Schools sued Youngkin and his administration, suggesting the executive order violates state law that orders school systems to “offer and prioritize in-person instruction” while adhering to “mitigation procedures, like mask-wearing, to the extent practicable as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit Thursday.

The CDC recommends universal indoor masking for students 2 and older, staff, teachers and visitors to K-12 schools, independent of vaccination status.

Brabrand said a virtual town hall regarding pandemic mitigation measures is scheduled in English Monday at 7 p.m. and in Spanish Tuesday at 7 p.m. Registration is required to attend.

Meanwhile, Alexandria City Public Schools said Friday it will continue to require masks and provide them to any student or staff member who arrives without one.

Falls Church City school leaders said masks will be required for the next three weeks, but after that, there will be an opt out policy for families that will start either Feb. 14, or when the state’s health department says the community is in the moderate transmission range for a seven-consecutive-day period, as defined by the CDC, whichever comes first.

The Fauquier County School Board voted Thursday night to comply with Youngkin’s order, joining Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties in removing the mask requirement.

Loudoun, Stafford and Prince William counties, as well as Arlington schools, said they will also keep their mask requirements.

WTOP’s Jose Umana and Joslyn Chesson contributed to this report.


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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.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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