Augusta County will require masks in schools

covid-19 schools
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The Augusta County School Board reversed its stance on masking for students and staff to start the school year, at the point of a bayonet.

“If you want to get ticked off at somebody, get ticked off at those folks in Richmond. Call them. We got blindsided, we got smacked around, we got told what we’ve got to do,” board member David Shiflett said last night, according to a report in the News Leader, ahead of the reluctant unanimous board vote.

It was made clear by the board that it didn’t want to follow the CDC recommendation that students and staff be masked to start the school year, the CDC citing the increased number of COVID-19 cases associated with the delta variant at the heart of its recommendation.

Vaccines haven’t been approved for kids under 12, and the highly transmissible delta variant has been spreading like wildfire among the unvaccinated.

Important to point out here that Augusta County is lagging behind the state and U.S. numbers in terms of vaccinations – 49.8 percent of county residents have received at least one vaccine dose, and 46.5 percent are fully vaccinated, according to VDH, which pegs the numbers statewide at 60.9 percent at one dose and 54.3 percent fully vaccinated.

It stands to reason that as the vaccine numbers go up, and more people are protected against COVID, the less likely it will be that masks will be needed in schools as another line of defense against the community spread.

It will also help when vaccines are eventually approved for use with kids under 12. The numbers of vaccinated should go up dramatically at that stage.

That is, as long as we can overcome the resistance evident in the approach of the school board, and those who spoke out against the requirement handed down from Richmond.

It shouldn’t have to be that you need somebody telling you that you have to be vaccinated to protect yourself and protect others.

The state employee mandate announced by Gov. Ralph Northam yesterday – shouldn’t need it.

The healthcare sector, the growing number of companies thinking out loud about vaccine mandates for employees – why is this necessary?

The longer this silly fight over vaccines rages on, the longer it will need to rage on.

This needn’t be political. The vaccines were developed in record time with encouragement from the Trump administration, and have been rolled out in record numbers under leadership from the Biden administration.

It’s about as bipartisan as things can get in 2021 America.

Masking in schools at the start of the school year isn’t some sinister plot, government overreach, mind control.

It’s protecting kids and staff.

It’s god-awful that it took the threat of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit if a kid got sick and died to get the school board to do the right thing, but hey, they did the right thing.

Let’s focus on getting more folks vaccinated so we can get out of this rut.

Story by Chris Graham

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