Gov. Northam to give updated guidance on masks in Virginia schools

Virginia News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Will kids have to wear masks in schools next year? That’s the question Gov. Ralph Northam is expected to answer on Wednesday.

Under current guidance, anyone inside a school — vaccinated or not — is required to wear one. However, that guidance is set to expire at the end of the week.

“We obviously want to follow the CDC guidelines, as well as work with our Department of Health and Department of Education to give guidance to the schools,” Northam told WFXR’s sister station earlier this month.

Recently, he said fully vaccinated students and staff may soon be able to take their masks off in the classroom.

“We’ve followed the science throughout this pandemic, and that’s what Governor Northam will continue to do. The Department of Health and the Department of Education will release specific guidance for school districts [Wednesday], given that Commissioner Oliver’s public health order remains in effect through July 25,” Alena Yarmosky, the governor’s spokesperson, said. “I would note that the Governor is continuing to stress the importance of getting vaccinated—if you are 12 and older, vaccination is the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from this virus.”

On Monday, July 19, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that everyone over the age of two should wear a face mask inside schools – regardless of vaccination status.

The group said it’s because “a significant portion” of the student population is not eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines and it would be difficult for schools to track the vaccination status.

Right now, it’s unclear if Virginia schools will be required to track vaccination status. Currently, 35.9% of kids ages 12-15 have gotten the COVID-19 vaccine shot.

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