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FCPS students who repeatedly refuse to wear mask could be excluded from in-person learning

Students who refuse to wear a mask may be excluded from in-person learning.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Students at Fairfax County Public Schools will have to continue to wear masks to school, despite an executive order from Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 

Fairfax County Public Schools is one of seven school boards that has banded together to file a lawsuit against the Republican governor's executive order to make masks optional in schools across the Commonwealth. 

“To remove that masking, it's just playing to the right-wing instead of actually caring about students and their safety," FCPS senior Matthew Savage said.

He's one of many students, parents and teachers who want to keep the masks as the region battles through the latest surge in COVID-19 cases.

Other parents, however, said last week that they were planning to send their kids to school maskless.

“So tired of, of the kids constantly being barraged like it's the most important thing in the world, more important than their education that they continue to wear a mask," FCPS parent David Rich said. "So I just really, really hope that other parents will also stand up and that they will also send their children without masks to school.”

During a virtual town hall Monday, school officials announced plans on how to handle students who refuse to wear a face mask. 

According to Assistant Superintendent Michelle Boyd, the face masks are a part of the FCPS dress code. She said not one school that is part of the FCPS system has had to revert to virtual learning and zero outbreaks have been reported since returning from winter break. A win she said is due to students following CDC guidelines, such as wearing masks. 

"Students have stepped up and answered the call to keep themselves safe, to keep their friends safe and to keep their community safe," said Boyd. 

While the decision over Youngkin's executive order heads to court, FCPS will continue to require students to wear face masks during in-person learning. School officials revealed Monday what will happen if a student refuses to wear a face mask during the town hall. 

  1. If a student refuses to wear a face mask, staff will remind the student of the requirement. 
  2. If the student continues to refuse to wear a mask, staff will then seek available student services to produce more education for student expectations and the ramifications of going against the requirement. 
  3. If the student still refuses to wear a mask, the school staff will contact a parent or guardian. 
  4. If the student again refuses to wear a mask, the student will be excluded from in-person learning. 

Students who are excluded from in-person learning because they are refusing to wear a mask will have access to learning through teacher-provided work via the Learning Management System. 

Meanwhile, Gov. Youngkin updated his executive order last week with other guidelines to keep kids safe, like vaccination, distancing, and testing to stay in class.

He also advised parents to listen to their principal for the time being and allow the legal process to play out, saying he believes the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in their favor.

A George Washington University law professor, however, told WUSA9 that he thinks the school districts have a strong case.

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