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FAIRFAX COUNTY, VA — Fairfax County Public Schools reaffirmed its mask mandate after Virginia's new governor issued an executive order calling for masks to be the choice of a student's parent.
The mask executive order was one of 11 Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed on his first day in office Saturday. The order states parents have the choice on whether their child should wear a mask for the duration of the school day. The order is effective Monday, Jan. 24 unless rescinded or amended by another order.
Ahead of the 2021-2022 school year, former Gov. Ralph Northam issued a public health order with Virginia Health Commissioner Norman Oliver requiring universal masking in K-12 schools. This aligned with a law passed by the General Assembly that requires school districts to offer in-person learning and "to the maximum extent practicable" follow COVID-19 mitigation strategies from the CDC. The bill expires Aug. 1, 2022.
The current CDC guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools calls for universal indoor masking for anyone 2 and older regardless of vaccination status.
FCPS and other Northern Virginia school districts announced the intent to continue requiring masks. A letter to families from Superintendent Scott Brabrand said FCPS requires universal mask wearing and other mitigation strategies. Brabrand said the school district is reviewing Youngkin's order and will share update information as needed.
"Our layered prevention strategies have proven effective in keeping transmission rates low in our schools," Brabrand wrote. "We know our students are best served by in-person instruction. Adhering to our layered prevention strategies, especially universal masking, keeps our schools open and safe places for students to learn."
At FCPS, masks are required indoors regardless of vaccination status, although masks may be removed when actively eating or drinking and outdoors. Those not fully vaccinated are recommended to wear masks outdoors in crowded settings.