Augusta County Schools to make masks optional on Valentine’s Day, with contingencies

Published: Jan. 20, 2022 at 9:50 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Augusta County Schools will become mask-optional in three weeks.

School Board members made the decision Thursday during their annual retreat, but there are contingencies.

Staunton and Waynesboro have both decided to stay the course with mask mandates for students and staff, at least for now. But, in a 5-1 vote, the Augusta County School Board has decided Valentine’s Day is the day masks could become optional.

Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order takes effect on Monday, but School Board members who all want to be done with masks -- the majority say that’s not enough time with Omicron spiking.

School staff shared data that shows COVID is trending like it did last year with a spike two weeks after winter break. Last week more than 200 students tested positive for COVID, another 200 plus had to quarantine, and more than 30 teachers had to quarantine.

“We’ve got to see our COVID numbers going down in the local division,” David Shiflett, the Augusta County School Board chairman said. “That’s the main thing that we’re concerned with. Also, any legal rulings that may be coming from the Virginia Supreme Court that will affect our ability to go mask optional.”

With the vote, the Board reserves the option to reevaluate this decision at any time.

The vote does not include school transportation because of federal laws. Students who ride the bus will still be required to wear masks.

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