Virginia is mandating masks at all schools under public health order

All students, staff, regardless of vaccination status, required to wear masks indoors at Virginia schools

Child wearing a mask in school

The state of Virginia has a new public health order that mandates masks for all students and staff in K-12 schools.

The order requires masks to be worn indoors regardless of a person’s COVID-19 vaccination status. The order is to remain in place until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for schools change. This applies to all public and private schools in the state of Virginia.

There are exceptions to the order including while eating, drinking, exercising, playing certain instruments and when necessary to participate in a religious ritual. People with health conditions and disabilities that prevent them from wearing a mask are also exempt from the rule.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver told Richmond’s WRIC that Virginia is experiencing a “significant” surge of COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant. They are working to mitigate the spread of the virus as children and teachers head back to classrooms.

“(The order) will be implemented on a local level,” said Norman. “This order does not require schools to require documentation for a medical exemption, but it also doesn’t prevent a school from acquiring documentation.”

Virginia vaccination rate

Virginia health officials reported only 40.3% of 12 to 15-year-olds and 51.7 % of 16 to 17-year-olds in the state are fully vaccinated as of Aug. 10. The state reports 61.8% of its population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Aug. 12 with 54.8% of the state’s population fully vaccinated. The state reported 2,361 new cases on Thursday. The state’s 7-day moving average of confirmed COVID-19 cases was 1,455 as of Aug. 5.

Compare that to Michigan where 2,786 new cases and 24 additional deaths over a two-day period were reported Wednesday. Michigan’s 7-day moving average for daily cases was 1,164 on Wednesday -- a significant jump since the beginning of July. The 7-day death average was 4 on Wednesday. The state’s fatality rate is 2.2%. The state also reports “active cases,” which were listed at 21,900 on Wednesday.

What Michigan is doing

Michigan does not have a mask mandate for schools but state health officials issued guidelines calling for all staff and students to wear masks while indoors. That’s in line with the CDC’s school guidelines. Many Michigan school districts and universities have decided to implement mask mandates for the fall semester.

Michigan has reported more than 9.4 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine administered as of Tuesday, with 64.3% of 16+ residents having received at least one dose while 56.1% of 16+ residents are considered fully vaccinated.

As of Aug. 10, just 37.8% of Michigan teens have received a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

About the Author:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.