ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR)– On Friday, the Roanoke County School Board voted in favor of an indoor mask mandate for all students and staff for grades PreK through 12. Angry protestors gathered outside of Roanoke County School Headquarters, saying they are at odds with a new state law requiring all Virginia schools to follow CDC recommendations.
Heather Waskey, a parent, says her daughter is getting ready for kindergarten at Herman L. Horn Elementary School.
“Stop the masks for the kids. It’s different if you want to force it on adults, we can stand up for ourselves. They cannot. They should have a choice too,” said Waskey.
Waskey went on to say that she is fearful of her daughter going into a school atmosphere, where she will not be able to see teachers smile. She says the whole point of going to a new school is seeing teachers expressions when they do a good job, or even do something wrong.
At the protests, those supporting masking up said it’s important because they want to protect their children.
“The notion of putting hundreds of kids together in a small space without masks was a little bit alarming for me,” said Charles Flora, whose five-year-old son is going into first grade.
Flora’s biggest concern is that a lot of kids that will be going to schools are coming from families who are not vaccinated, or have chosen not to. Flora says decisions like this put families at an even higher risk.
Dr. Ken Nicely, Roanoke County School Superintendent, says board members voted 3-2 for mandating masks indoors. The decision was based on what was best for the children.
“We had a great discussion this afternoon. I am so grateful for board members who tried to figure this out and do what is good for kids,” said Nicely.
Shortly after the Roanoke County protests, Dr. Kevin Siers, Pulaski County School Board Superintendent, updated Pulaski County’s reopening plan, requiring all masks inside all school buildings. He says the board is disappointed, because the county was considering all masking options.
“Most of the schools in Region 7 were planning to make masking optional, and everyone has of course sought advice. Allowing masks to be optional was not in compliance with the law, and to be sure that we are in compliance, then we need to have universal masking in schools,” explained Siers.
To understand the recommendation from the CDC, you can read the full guidance for K-12 schools by following this link.
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