LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. — Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) will require all students and staff to wear masks regardless of their vaccination status, Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler announced Monday in a letter sent out to the school community.
Ziegler said the decision was not easy and was driven by the health and safety of students and staff. He said after consulting with local public health officials on the county's community transmission rates, positivity rates, vaccination rates by age group and school-based data from the spring, they plan to implement this policy for the 2021-2022 school year.
"We also reviewed guidance issued by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Health," Ziegler added.
School leaders believe wearing masks will minimize the need for quarantining and will ensure students will be able to continue in-person learning, Ziegler said.
"Our desire to maximize in-person instruction remains at the forefront of this decision. Mask wearing will minimize the need for quarantining, thus keeping students in the classroom. We realize, however, that our desire for in-person learning is currently being challenged by rising community risk in Loudoun County and the potential impact of the Delta variant on students and our community. By addressing those factors under our control--like wearing masks and receiving the vaccine --we can Return Stronger Together despite changing conditions in Loudoun County."
The State of Virginia, on the other hand, is also encouraging commonwealth residents to mask up again, regardless of vaccination status. But, unlike D.C., Governor Ralph Northam is not mandating masks indoors.
The CDC's new mask recommendation urges vaccinated people to wear masks indoors in areas that have substantial or high community transmission of COVID-19. Areas where there are more than 50 cases per 100,000 people, over the course of 7 days, are considered to have "substantial transmission" of COVID-19; Regions with more than 100 cases per 100,000 over 7 days are classified as "high transmission."
D.C. and parts of Northern Virginia were elevated to "substantial" or "high" transmission status, while the entire state of Maryland remains in the "moderate" range.
You can see the CDC's full county spread map here.
For more information on LCPS' mask policy, click here.