Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced today that all students, teachers, and staff in the state’s elementary, middle, and high schools will be required to wear masks indoors this fall, regardless of their vaccination status. The new mandate is in line with CDC recommendations from July 27, recommending that everyone age 2 and older wear masks inside schools.
The mandate is an escalation of the state’s previous stance. As of late July, state health officials were “strongly recommending” masks for everyone inside elementary schools and for unvaccinated individuals in middle and high schools. Still, it left the ultimate decision on mask policy to each individual school district. Now, with the increased spread of the Delta variant, officials are taking stronger action.
“We all share the same goal of keeping our schools open and keeping our students safe,” Northam said in a statement. “The Public Health Order makes it very clear that masks are required in all indoor K-12 settings, and Virginia expects all schools to comply.”
It’s a move that may anger some from Virginia’s redder school districts. Already, some Republican-led states have banned mask mandates in schools.