Back to school mask and COVID-19 policies for southwest and central Virginia

Back to School

(Photo Courtesy: MGN online)

(WFXR) — School districts across southwest and central Virginia have been changing their policies surrounding masks and COVID-19. WFXR News compiled a list of the policies at the school districts, colleges, and universities below.

Alleghany Highlands

Alleghany County Public Schools:

The Alleghany County School Board approved their health mitigation plan for the school district. The plan, which is located on the Alleghany County Schools’ website, breaks down in great detail what students, teachers, and staff can expect this school year.

In the document, there is a checklist to screen students for COVID symptoms. It also states that face coverings/masks must be worn on buses, school transportation, and inside all buildings.

Staff will be required to self-screen daily and parents are expected to screen students for symptoms before sending them to school. Visitors will be allowed to enter the office only after passing screening conditions and are asked to call for an appointment before arriving.

Bath County Public Schools:

UPDATE 8/17/21: Bath County Public Schools released new safe return to school protocols that will require students, teachers, staff, and visitors to wear a mask indoors in private and public K-12 grade schools. School officials say students and staff will continue to wear masks when on school buses. These changes overwrite the previous plan that would encourage — but not mandate — students and staff to wear masks indoors, according to documents approved by the school board on Aug. 3.

However, the school plan states for those who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition (medical documentation required) or due to religion, may submit a reasonable accommodation. The school will determine each accommodation on a case-by-case basis.

Bath County Public Schools posted the document on their Facebook page:

Craig County Public Schools:

Masks will be optional for the school year in Craig County Public Schools. The school board held a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 9 and voted to hold off requiring masks for the new school year, which started on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

Instead, masks will be a recommendation for students, teachers, staff, and visitors. School officials stated they were following the CDC’s guidance of making masks a recommendation.

Lynchburg & Central Virginia

Amherst County Public Schools:

Students, faculty, staff, and visitors will be required to wear face coverings inside any Amherst County Public School facility. This decision will take effect immediately for all public and private K-12 grade schools regardless of vaccination status. The Virginia State Health Commissioner announced this decision on Thursday.

Appomattox County Public Schools:

Students, teachers, and staff started the school on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at Appomattox County Public Schools under the policy that everyone is required to wear masks. This includes inside of schools and on school buses. School officials say that if the CDC changes its guidance, they will revisit the district’s masking policies.

Bedford County Public Schools:

Masks will be required for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors regardless of vaccination status in Bedford County Public Schools. Superintendent, Dr. Marc Bergin, made the announcement in an email release on Sunday, Aug. 8. This requirement applies to all open houses, orientations, and other gatherings planned for this upcoming week. The first day for Bedford County Schools is on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Campbell County Public Schools:

The Campbell County Public Schools changed its mask policy from late July to now have students, teachers, and staff required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status.

In a Facebook post, the district says this change goes into effect at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12 and masks will also be required during the open house events on that day.

Lynchburg City Schools:

The school board held a meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 3, and voted in favor of keeping the mask mandate. This means all students and staff will be required to keep their masks on while inside any facility in the Lynchburg City Schools‘ district. The school board says they plan to revisit the CDC recommendations if there are any changes. The school year begins Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Nelson County Public Schools:

As of writing this, Nelson County Public Schools is requiring all students and staff to wear a face-covering while riding the bus or inside the building regardless of vaccination. The Nelson County School Board has asked staff members and families to fill out a survey prior to their meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. at the Nelson County High School Auditorium.

WFXR News will update this story if requirements for the school year changes. Students started the school year on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

New River Valley

Carroll County Public Schools:

The school district changed its mask policies on Monday, Aug. 9 after a Back to School Bash ended with a group of high schoolers testing positive for the coronavirus.

The policy change will go into effect on the first day of school on Wednesday, Aug. 11. Carroll County Public Schools officials stated they are requiring a mask mandate to keep schools open for in-person learning.

Floyd County Public Schools:

Before students, teachers and staff return to classrooms on Wednesday, Aug 11, Floyd County Public Schools officials decided to make indoor masking a requirement no matter vaccination status.

The school posted on Facebook saying, “Thank you for being flexible as we continue to work with our local health officials while following CDC guidance.”

Galax City Public Schools:

According to Galax City Public Schools, the school board voted unanimously on Tuesday, Aug. 10 in favor of wearing masks and following both CDC guidance and Virginia state law when the 2021-2022 school year starts. However, the school board will revisit the mask policy at each monthly meeting.

This decision comes after the Galax School Board attorney advised board members that state law requires universal masking in K-12 schools.

The first day of school in Galax is set for Wednesday, Aug. 18.

Giles County Public Schools:

UPDATE 8/18/21: Giles County Public Schools released its guidelines for the 2021-2022 school year. The school board approved Phase two which will require students, teachers, and staff members to wear masks in buildings and on buses.

Students and vaccinated staff who are claiming a medical or religious exemption to mask-wearing must provide a document to the school administration. You can review the mitigation plan in the link provided below on their Facebook post.

The first day of school for students starts Monday, Aug. 23.

Grayson County Public Schools:

In a Facebook post from Fries School on Tuesday, Aug. 10, Grayson County Public Schools Superintendent Kelly B. Willmore announced:

“We will follow the law to require masks, HOWEVER, any student or staff member with a note from a medical professional will be exempt. This includes a note from family doctor, PA, Pediatrician, or mental health professional. Sadly, being vaccinated does not lift this restriction.”

The school board voted 5-0 in favor of a provision to the new mask mandate on Monday, Aug. 9.

If you have any questions about this policy change, you are asked to send Wilmore a message. Grayson County students will return to the classroom on Aug. 26.

Montgomery County Public Schools:

Face masks will be required indoors at Montgomery County Public Schools for students and staff members. This will take place starting Thursday, Aug. 12.

Members of the school board plan to review local health data and revisit the mask policy on Sept. 7.

Pulaski County Public Schools:

Pulaski County Public Schools has changed their reopening plan to Tier II, which was approved by the Pulaski County School Board on Tuesday, Aug. 10.

This plan will require masks inside of all school buildings and on school transportation. Meals will be eaten in the cafeteria with an increased social distancing and students will have three feet of social distancing in classrooms. There will be regular cleaning and sanitizing throughout the building.

Below is the Facebook post regarding the reopening changes to the school district:

The first day of school starts Wednesday, Aug. 18, for Pulaski County Public Schools.

Virginia Tech:

When classes start Aug. 23, Virginia Tech says face coverings will be required by everyone, regardless of vaccination status, when indoors in designated public areas. The university implemented this interim requirement on Thursday, Aug. 5 for the start of the fall semester.

Schools officials will reevaluate the requirement in September after they review both campus and regional data related to the overall public health status.

Also, all faculty, staff, students, and visitors at all Virginia Tech owned or leased facilities in communities with substantial or high community transmission are required to wear a mask in indoor public spaces. This includes lobbies, foyers, atriums, hallways, and elevators accessible by the general public.

Masks will also be required in public settings, such as dining facilities, when people are not eating or drinking. The masking requirement does not apply to private workplaces or outdoor settings.

Roanoke Valley

Botetourt County Public Schools:

Botetourt County Public Schools released a new guideline for the school year to have universal indoor masking for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. This requirement also applies to upcoming open houses, orientations, and other gatherings prior to the start of the school year.

School officials released this updated mask policy on Friday, Aug. 6. The first day of school is set for Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Buena Vista City Public Schools:

Students, teachers, and staff who are not fully vaccinated will be required to wear masks indoors at Buena Vista City Public Schools. The school district will have cotton masks, face shields, and gators on hand for students or staff who still need them. Everyone will need to wear a mask while riding on school transportation regardless of vaccination status.

Ferrum College:

As of Monday, Aug 9, all students, employees, and visitors at Ferrum College are required to wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status and strongly encouraged outdoors when social distancing is not possible.

Ferrum College President David L. Johns released a statement regarding the fall semester Friday, Aug. 6. The college went on to say in the statement that they will adjust the face covering requirement if they change.

Classes for Ferrum College begin on Monday, Aug. 23.

Franklin County Public Schools:

The school board for Franklin County voted unanimously in favor of requiring masks during a meeting on Monday, Aug. 9. The policy will require students in grades K through 12 to wear masks.

WFXR News’ Amanda Lee is at the Franklin County School Board Meeting. Over a dozen people have signed up to speak on the topic of mask mandates at the meeting. (Image courtesy of Amanda Lee/WFXR News).

Parents filled the room, some voicing their concerns saying that the CDC is making masks a recommendation and that the school board should as well. But the school board did not agree.

The decision to make masks a requirement will go into effect when students, teachers, and staff head back to school on Wednesday, Aug. 11.

Lexington City Schools:

Members of the Lexington City School Board voted Wednesday, Aug. 11 in favor of an updated “Return to Learn Plan” featuring a revised masking policy and updated contact tracing definitions that follow the current guidelines from the CDC.

According to Lexington City Schools, masks will be universally required for all students, staff, teachers and visitors at K-12 schools, no matter their vaccination status. This mask requirement also applies to all back-to-school events scheduled before school starts on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

In addition, school officials modified the rules for shuttle bus services, saying that regular bus capacity will be allowed, but all riders and the driver must wear a face covering while on the bus due to CDC mask mandates for public transportation.

Roanoke Catholic School:

Roanoke Catholic School released its back-to-school requirements for students, teachers, staff, and visitors. RCS recommends masking indoors and requires masks on the school buses and during transportation between sporting events and field trips.

Roanoke City Public Schools:

According to Roanoke City Public Schools, masks will be required for all students, faculty and staff starting Monday, Aug. 9, and will continue for the first nine weeks of school or until the district chooses to revise its plan.

Air purification and filtration systems have also been installed, says the district. School officials are also encouraging everyone who is able to receive the vaccine to do so.

Roanoke County Public Schools:

Roanoke County Public Schools voted on Friday, Aug. 6 in favor of an indoor mask mandate for all students and staff for grades PreK through 12 for the upcoming school year. The mask mandate goes into effect on the first day of school, Thursday, Aug. 12.

Protesters lined up outside the Roanoke County Public Schools Central Office Building on Aug. 6, 2021 while the Roanoke County School Board was voting on a mask mandate for students and staff. (Photo: Aaron Thompson/WFXR News)

This decision came despite protesters lined up outside the Roanoke County Public Schools Central Office Building. They held signs requesting the school board vote for a no-mask mandate.

Roanoke College:

Roanoke College released its new guidelines for the upcoming school year. The college states that students will be required under the CDC guidelines to wear a mask on campus in an indoor setting from Monday, Aug. 16 through the end of September. Students will also be required to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination through the Student Health Portal.

New students are scheduled to move in on Saturday, Aug. 28. Returning students are set to move in on Sunday, Aug. 29. Evening classes begin on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

Rockbridge County Public Schools:

Rockbridge County Public Schools plans to abide by the updated CDC guidelines when the school year starts on Tuesday, Aug. 17.

Following a 5-0 vote of the Rockbridge County School Board on Tuesday, Aug. 10, masks will be universally required for all students, staff, teachers, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

View Rockbridge County Schools’ full back-to-school plan by clicking here.

Salem City Public Schools:

Salem City Public Schools released its guidelines for the upcoming school year on Tuesday, Aug. 10. Students, teachers, and staff will be required under the CDC guidelines to wear a mask while indoors and on busses.

School officials did say that masks will not be required on the playground or during sporting practices and games. The school year begins Monday, Aug. 30.

Southside Virginia

Averett University:

Averett University released its requirements for the 2021-2022 school year. The university stated on its website that students, employees, and visitors are required to wear masks indoors during the month of August. If the university changes any policies it will be communicated prior to Sept. 1. On-campus students and employees will be required to undergo COVID-19 PCR testing at a pharmacy or health care provider’s office three days prior to returning to campus.

Charlotte County Public Schools:

Students and staff returned to school wearing masks. It was part of the Charlotte County Public Schools‘ requirement for all students, staff, and visitors. The school board made the decision on Tuesday, Aug. 3, overturning their mask-optional policy.

The school district will revisit the CDC guidance if there are any changes in the future. Until then, masks will be required on CCPS buses and in the CCPS County Cares.

Danville Community College:

When students return to school on Aug. 23, they will be required to wear masks to help lessen the risk of coronavirus transmission at Danville Community College.

“Our first priority has always been the safety of our students and personnel when it comes to creating an environment of educational excellence,” said DCC Interim President Dr. Muriel Mickles.

All people on the campus will be required to face coverings in indoor public spaces regardless of vaccination status.

Danville Public Schools:

During a meeting Thursday, Aug. 5, the Danville School Board voted that all staff, students, and visitors wear masks.

Shields will be installed in the cafeteria. Students will have to maintain a six feet physical distance. There will be frequent hand sanitizer stations and surfaces will be cleaned and sanitized regularly. Hygenica machines will also be used to sanitize the schools. Masks will also be required on buses.

As for indoor sports and other athletic events, all spectators must wear masks, and capacity will be limited to 70 percent. Coaches and athletes are not required to wear masks but should keep at least three feet apart for social distance. But coaches and athletes will be required to wear masks when traveling on buses.

Danville Public Schools also recommends unvaccinated spectators wear masks at outdoor events.

Martinsville City Public Schools:

Martinsville City Public Schools says that masks are required for all students and staff at school and on buses. There will also be plexiglass barriers added between students for breakfast and lunch in the dining areas.

Schools officials will also enforce three feet of social distancing between students in the classroom, as well as six feet of distancing between adults and between adults and students. Students and staff members returned to the classrooms on Monday, Aug. 9.

As more school districts update their policies for students, teachers and staff WFXR News will provide updates.

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