The policy change takes effect Thursday, April 29.
Our metrics have improved to the extent that our principals and school board are comfortable relaxing outdoor masking requirements.
— Superintendent David Jeck
Fauquier County Public Schools will make face coverings for students and staff optional while participating in outdoor activities such as physical education, recess and labs, starting Thursday, April 29.
Social distancing outside will continue and people should avoid congregating in large groups, school officials said Wednesday. The school system mask protocol revisions follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which eased its outdoor mask guidelines Tuesday.
“Our metrics have improved to the extent that our principals and school board are comfortable relaxing outdoor masking requirements,” Superintendent David Jeck in a press release.
Fauquier schools will continue to require all staff members, visitors and students to wear cloth or disposable face masks at all times indoors, except while eating or drinking. School officials believe that strict adherence to all health mitigations, including mask wearing, will continue to be essential to maintaining in-person learning, Dr. Jeck said. Consistent adherence to the protocols at all schools “will remain a priority,” he added.
“We took a bold approach and brought students back into our schools early on in a hybrid model,” Dr. Jeck said. “Most recently, we brought all students back four days per week, beginning in March. These were bold steps considering we took them long before most of our neighbors did.
“But, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In our case, it meant taking a very conservative approach to mitigations, especially mask wearing. I make no apologies for this, especially considering that positive cases among our 10,000 students are minuscule, especially for elementary students.”
FCPS will review the protocol for face coverings at regular intervals and may choose to modify requirements, based on “new, credible” guidance.
The mask requirement will remain in place at all school buildings, school activities and entering, exiting and riding the school bus.
FCPS does not permit wearing gaiters, scarves or bandanas in place of cloth or disposable masks.
FCPS allows the wearing of face shields by students with documented breathing difficulties or students with behavioral difficulties. Principals have authority to approve the option to wear a face shield. Any exceptions to wearing face masks must be approved by the principal and meet established FCPS health mitigation requirements.