Roanoke County, other local school districts making decisions on mask mandates before kids head back to the classroom


(WFXR) — WFXR News has reached out to multiple school districts around southwest and central Virginia to determine who will and will not require students to wear masks.

Chuck Lionberger with Roanoke County Public Schools says there will not be a requirement for students and staff to wear masks indoors when the school year begins on Aug. 12.

He says that all schools in the district will comply with all federal and state mandates regarding mask-wearing.

Lionberger also says that, at this time, the school board does not plan on making any additional requirements above those mandates on the state and federal level for the new school year.

Meanwhile, Botetourt County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jonathan Russ shared the following statement during a school board meeting on Tuesday, July 27:

Botetourt County Public Schools acknowledges the need to monitor community and school transmission of COVID and will make adjustments to the current health plan as necessary and required for the 2021-2022 school year.

With the expiration of the state of emergency and executive orders issued by the governor and the expiration of the current public health order issued by the State Health Commissioner, Botetourt County Public Schools has amended the current health plan.

The masking required set forth by BCPS for all students and staff while indoors and instructional settlings will be lifted for the start of the 2021-2022 school year unless new executive orders or state mandates require otherwise.

Masks will be required while accessing any Botetourt County Public Schools’ public-school transportation regardless of vaccination status. This is in response to the current federal mandate stating that masks are required on all forms of public transportation.

In all other indoor instructional settings, the use of masks will be optional for all students, staff, and visitors.

Although the use of masks is optional, it is the recommendation of BCPS administration that all students PreK through five and those students in middle and high school that have not been fully vaccinated wear a mask while indoors.

Dr. Jonathan Russ, Superintendent of Botetourt County Public Schools

Below are responses from other schools and school districts regarding mask mandates:

  • Roanoke City Public Schools
    • The matter will likely be discussed during the school board meeting on Aug. 10.
  • Community High School of the Arts & Academics in Roanoke
    • A meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 28 to discuss the matter.
  • Appomattox County Public Schools
    • School officials are letting parents decide whether or not their children should wear masks at school.
  • Franklin County Public Schools
    • School officials are letting parents decide whether or not their children should wear masks at school.
  • Grayson County Public Schools
    • Schools officials are making masks optional at schools, but required while riding the bus.
  • Nelson County Public Schools
    • Staff members and families are asked to fill out survey about mask guidance before the Nelson County School Board meets on Aug. 12.
    • For the interim and the first few days of school, the school district is requiring all students, staff, and visitors to wear face coverings indoors while students are in the building, regardless of vaccination status. In addition, unless they are working alone and not in common areas, all staff need to wear masks if visitors or students are in the building.
    • All students and staff must wear face coverings while riding the bus until further notice.
  • Buena Vista City Public Schools
    • The school district’s PreK-12 reopening plan says masks are required for people who are not fully-vaccinated — including students, teachers, and staff — while indoors.
    • People do not need to wear masks while outdoors, but in people who are not fully-vaccinated are encouraged to wear masks while in crowded outdoor settings.
    • The school district will have cotton masks, face shields, and gators in stock for students or staff who still need them.
    • Everyone needs to wear a mask while riding on school transportation, regardless of vaccination status.

WFXR News has contacted several other schools/districts in the region — both public and private — many of whom have yet to make a determination whether or not mask mandates will be required for students and staff in time for the start of the new school year.

On Tuesday, the CDC started recommending those who live and work in locations where COVID-19 cases are climbing to resume wearing masks while indoors.

Image of local cases of COVID-19. (Image courtesy of the CDC).

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