Bedford County Schools announced Sunday that all students, employees and visitors are to wear masks until further notice regardless of vaccination status. Last week, the board voted 4-3 to make masks optional. A news release says the reversal comes after further consultation with legal counsel and with the support of a majority of the Bedford County School Board.
It says the change follows recent changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Governor’s office, and state health officials. Last Thursday, Governor Ralph Northam announced that all public school divisions are legally mandated to implement the CDC guidance.
Bedford County students go back to school Wednesday.
Here is the entire news release from Bedford County Schools:
For Immediate Release
Sunday, August 8, 2021
Bedford County Issues Statement Regarding Updated Masking Requirements
Upon further consultation with legal counsel and with the support of a majority of the Bedford
County School Board, the superintendent has updated the school division’s health and safety
mitigations to require that masks be universally worn by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors
to our schools, regardless of vaccination status. This requirement applies to all upcoming open
houses, orientations, and other gatherings planned for this week. The change to require universal
indoor masking follows recent changes in guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), the Governor’s office, and state health officials.
The CDC recently updated its Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in K-12 Schools to
recommend universal indoor masking by all students, staff, teachers, and visitors to PreK-12
schools, regardless of vaccination status. On August 5th, Governor Ralph Northam announced
that all public school divisions are legally mandated to implement the CDC guidance. That same
day, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education updated their
Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools to align with the
updated guidance from the CDC.
In his public comments last week, the Governor stated that school boards should have frank
conversations with their legal counsel regarding Senate Bill 1303. “It’s the law of the
Commonwealth of Virginia, and I expect our school districts to follow the law.” Enacted in
March of this year, the bill states:
“Each school board shall provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres,
to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for …
elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been
provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Over the past 18 months, the pandemic has clearly taught us that our schools must remain
flexible in an ever-changing situation. The School Board will further discuss the school
division’s health and safety mitigation plan at their next meeting on Thursday, August 12. In the
meantime, the School Board and school administration would like to thank everyone for their
patience and understanding as we receive new information and make decisions in the best
interest of public safety in this continuously changing environment. Our teachers and staff are
hard at work preparing for the first day of school, and we are excited to have our students return
this coming Wednesday, August 11