The following guidance was issued Friday by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):

Masks are No Longer Required for Vaccinated Staff When Students Are Not Present

VDOE lays out mask guidelines for K-12, camps and daycares

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The following guidance was issued Friday by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE):

On Friday, the Commonwealth updated the FAQs related to EO79 and the mandate that individuals wear a mask while indoors on school property. Of particular note is the clarification that individuals may remove their masks indoors in accordance with CDC guidance when students are not present. 

The complete set of frequently asked questions are now online. Notable additions are below: 

  • Are fully vaccinated K-12 school staff required to wear a mask if no students are present in the school?
    No, the intent of the K-12 school mask requirement in Executive Order 79 is to ensure that, while school is in session, masking continues in school settings, regardless of vaccination status, until more students aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and until younger students become eligible for vaccination. Faculty, staff, and visitors, even if fully vaccinated, were included in the mask mandate in order to achieve better mask adherence by setting a good example to students who are not yet vaccinated. Additionally, CDC still recommends universal masking, regardless of vaccination status, in the K-12 setting.  

    When school is not in session (or anytime students are not attending programs in the school building), individuals should follow masking recommendations in accordance with CDC Guidance, which allows for fully vaccinated individuals to participate in most activities without masking or distancing. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to mask and distance in order to protect themselves and the people around them. 
  • What if camps are being offered at a K-12 school? Are campers and staff required to wear masks while on school property regardless of vaccination status? Are K-12 school staff required to wear masks while on school property regardless of vaccination status?
    If a school is no longer in session and no student programs are being offered in a K-12 school, camps may follow CDC Guidance for Operating Youth Camps, which allows for fully vaccinated staff and campers to participate without masking and distancing. If levels of community transmission are substantial or high, universal masking indoors should be considered for the day camp setting, regardless of vaccination status. At overnight camps taking place at K-12 schools, camps should follow CDC guidance for overnight camps, which recommends masking for campers who are not fully vaccinated while those campers are in settings outside their cohort.

    If a camp is held on school property while K-12 faculty and staff are present on-site, those K-12 faculty and staff may follow masking recommendations in accordance with CDC Guidance, which allows for fully vaccinated individuals to participate in most activities without masking or distancing. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to mask and distance in order to protect themselves and the people around them. 
  • Are children under age 5 required to wear a mask if in a K-12 school?
    CDC and VDH currently recommend children aged 2-4 wear a mask in schools, but it is not required. The school mask mandate outlined in Executive Order 79 applies to individuals aged 5 and older. Parents and caregivers should use their best judgement when placing a mask on a child aged 2-4. Masks should not be worn by children under age 2.
  • If programs taking place at K-12 schools have a scheduled nap time, do children need to wear masks while napping?
    No, masks should be removed for nap time. The mask exceptions in Executive Order 79 may be utilized in schools. “Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance” is exempt from the mask requirement. 

    Additionally, CDC Guidance clarifies that child care providers should remove children's masks “before sleeping, napping, [and] when they may fall asleep (such as in a car seat or stroller).” Sleeping children may be unable to remove their mask if their breathing is obstructed, and children should not wear masks during nap time. 

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