RICHMAND, Virginia (WRIC) – Masks are now optional for Virginia students under a new law that takes effect March 1 that allows families to opt out of wearing them to children in class.
Gov. Glen Yangkin signed Senate Bill 739 was introduced into law last month after it was passed with the support of two parties in the General Assembly.
Richmond Public Schools said 225 students in their department, which is less than one percent of enrollment, dropped their masks on Tuesday.
Hopewell Public Schools also said most students still wear them, though they don’t keep track of the count.
Will Savers, the father of the RPS student, told 8News that he and his wife support the optional mask law.
“We decided to tell our daughter that she didn’t need to wear a mask, although we sent her to school with her when she decided to wear a mask,” he said.
Savers said he received a letter from the superintendent 12 days ago about making a formal request.
RPS said parents or caregivers will need to email COVIDrps@rvaschools.net and indicate the child’s name and school so the student’s decision is registered. Everyone can demand exceptions, and he does not need to state the reason – both requirements of the new law.
Other school systems, such as Chesterfield Public Schools and Hanover County, waived the mask mandate until March 1.
This comes after the CDC recently updated its instructions to no longer recommend universal camouflage in schools where communities have low or medium levels of transmission.
Alison Sowers said the updated guide could help students return to a normal education.
“I am disappointed that it seems so political. I personally did not vote for our current governor, but I am very grateful for this law, ”she said.
Michael Mulhol, the father of two Chesterfield students, said the law satisfies people on both sides of the issue.
“I’m just glad we were able to come to a compromise that best serves our children,” he said.
The CDC has also updated its recommendations on masks in school buses:
“Beginning on February 25, 2022, the CDC is enforcing its law enforcement by not requiring people to wear masks in buses or vans operated by public or private school systems, including early care programs and education / child care programs. The CDC is making this change in line with updated instructions that no longer recommend wearing the mask indoors in K-12 and in early educational institutions in low- or middle-level COVID-19 communities. ”
The RPS said their mandate for masks remains in force for staff and students on buses.
Chesterfield and Henry have revoked the mandate for masks for staff and students traveling on buses.