New school mask law goes into effect March 1

Akhil Angajala and Riya Sri Nagella

Students who wish to stop wearing masks may do so starting on March 1.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed a bill on Feb. 16 in Richmond, officially making masks optional for all Virginia Public Schools.

The new law prevents school districts from enacting new mask policies and adapting policies using the infection and hospitalization data of a particular area. The law also gives school districts until March 1 to come up with a plan to adapt to the new and major changes. It says that if a parent were to elect their child to discontinue their usage of masks, they need to provide no certain reason nor health/educational status to do so.

What this law says is that any parent who wishes to discontinue their child’s usage of masks in school, they may simply walk in without one and no one can speak against it and does not need to give any more information towards it. But for the remaining students continuing to wear face masks, the CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) are hinting at releasing new mask standards/protocols that will soon be applied to daily life.

This decision was selectively taken by the state because Governor Youngkin’s main objective is “restoring power back to parents,” as he stated prior to signing the bill on the steps of the Capitol, and letting families choose for their children’s wellbeing. 

Although this state law will take down mask mandates in schools, the federal mask requirement for public transportation still remains and states that students will still be required to wear masks when riding school buses. 

According to www.prevention.com and www.poynter.org, the new guidelines should at least say that the mask must be on your face for as long as you can in public, must fit snugly on your face to cover both your nose and mouth, must have non-irritating/non-toxic chemical materials where the mask touches your skin. It must also meet “workplace performance,” meaning the mask must provide at least 50% filtration and must be breathable and provide a leakage ratio greater than or equal to five (a higher leakage ratio means less particles getting through the mask).

Recently on Feb. 17, 5 days earlier than originally planned, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) abolished their mask mandates due to parents suing the school board. As LCPS is one of our neighboring counties, these actions may reflect upon the decisions FCPS chooses to take and might also affect the safety of our school community.