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Albemarle County, Charlottesville bucking Youngkin on school mask policies

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About that executive order from Gov. Glenn Youngkin declaring that parents can now make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school: it’s not state law, and the school divisions in Albemarle County and Charlottesville are going to continue to follow state law.

Albemarle County Public Schools announced Monday that it continue to comply with the state law that masks be worn by all students in all schools and facilities. The division also said that it will continue to follow the federal government’s order that masks be worn on all school buses

And in accordance with the standard issued by the Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there will be no change to the requirement that all school division staff continue to wear masks when inside school facilities.

The division said that given the high transmissibility of the omicron variant and the fact that the county is in the midst of winter and flu season, it is important to keep its current health protection safeguards in place.

The state law requiring that school divisions provide in-person instruction for students while adhering to the CDC masking requirements for schools remains in effect until August.

Charlottesville City Schools also affirmed on Monday that it will continue to require all students, staff, and visitors to wear masks on school grounds, school buses and at bus stops.

“In doing so, we are following Virginia Senate Bill 1303, which requires schools to follow the mitigation recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘to the maximum extent practicable,’’ Superintendent Dr. Royal A. Gurley Jr. and School Board Chair Lisa Larson-Torres said in a joint statement.

“Especially at this moment during the omicron-variant surge, we reaffirm our commitment to masking and other mitigation strategies. Following the recommendations of the CDC and the Virginia Department of Health has allowed us to keep in-school transmission to a minimum. We especially appreciate the Blue Ridge Health District for their near-daily guidance,” Gurley and Larson-Torres said.

Story by Chris Graham

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