WASHINGTON — As a new school year approaches, parents and guardians across the country have one question. Will my child still be required to a face covering in the classroom?
The answer is more nuanced, and specific requirements change based on both state, county and school district GUIDANCE. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), masks should still be worn in the upcoming school year by any person age 2 and above who is not fully vaccinated. However, the agency has also announced that certain school districts may see fit to adopt universal mask requirements depending on local pandemic conditions.
Here's a rundown of what DMV school districts' masks policies are ahead of the start back to in-person learning in a post-COVID era.
Editor's Note: This list is being continuously updated as school districts make their decisions for the 2021-2022 school year.
D.C. Public Schools (DCPS)
DCPS will fully re-open to all students for in-person learning starting August 30, however, all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face coverings until further notice, as stated in DCPS's reopening portal.
Howard County Public School System (HCPSS)
Masks will be required in school buildings for all students, staff and visitors, regardless of vaccination status, Superintendent Dr. Michael Martirano announced on July 30.
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS)
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will require all students, teachers and staff to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, when entering school buildings this fall. The mask mandate will apply to elementary, middle and high schools, and will be enforced inside all school buildings and on buses. MCPS clarified that masks will not be required outside, but are strongly recommended for unvaccinated people.
Prince George's County Public Schools (PGCPS)
Prince George's County Public School will continue to mandate mask-wearing for all students and staff for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, CEO Monica Goldson announced July 26.
Washington County Public Schools:
“Washington County Public Schools (WCPS) has communicated with our learning community that we are prepared to begin the 2021-2022 school year by following executive orders from the Office of the Governor and the State that are in effect at that time. We are committed to providing safe and healthy schools for our students and staff as was done with all students learning in person during the 2020-2021 school year. WCPS will continue following physical distancing recommendations, implementing enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and encouraging healthy habits such as frequent handwashing and sanitizing. Our school families and staff can expect to learn more specific details regarding any additional health and safety precautions closer to the August 30th start date.”
On Aug. 12, Gov. Ralph Northam issued a Public Health Emergency Order Thursday requiring universal masking inside all K-12 public schools in the state.
Arlington Public Schools (APS)
Although classroom capacities will return to pre-pandemic levels, APS will continue to mandate that all staff, students and visitors wear masks while inside buildings and school busses, as stated on the district's website. However, students with recess will no longer be required to wear face coverings while outdoors.
On Aug. 12, the Arlington County Government and APS announced they would implement a COVID-19 vaccination mandate for employees.
Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS)
As of August 3, ACPS will still require all staff, students and visitors to wear face coverings while inside buildings or on school busses, regardless of vaccination status.
Manassas City Public Schools (MCPS)
The district has not officially determined whether students will be required to wear masks for the 2021-2022 school year.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS)
FCPS announced their decision on July 28, one day after the CDC recommended masks be worn indoors at all schools.
"To ensure our schools stay open and safe this school year, FCPS will start the school year with universal masking. Masks will be worn at all times by both staff and students indoors and on school buses, but are not required when eating or when outside during recess, PE, or other activities. Universal masking is a critical factor in ensuring all students can return to our buildings, especially when social distancing is not possible and not all our students are eligible yet for vaccinations. We will be regularly reviewing our masking practices in line with updates to national, state and local health recommendations."
Fauquier County Public Schools
The School Board voted to keep masks optional for students, faculty and staff Fauquier school policy outlined in a slide presentation, "strongly recommends that students under 12 wear face masks in school and on buses." It also says masks may be mandated if the rate of new positive cases among students or staff exceeds 1% or if more than 10% of the students or staff are absent because of illness or quarantines.
Prince William County Public Schools (PWCPS)
Prince William County Public Schools announced on August 2 that all students, teachers, staff and visitors will be required to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS)
LCPS will require all students and staff to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler announced Aug. 2 in a letter sent out to the school community.
Spotsylvania County Public Schools
Spotsylvania County School Board voted to approve a mask mandate for the upcoming 2021-2022 school year, during a school board meeting on Aug. 9. This was a reversal of a July decision to allow parents the ability to opt-out of the mask mandate for their students.
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