We want to share a July 2021 update that we received from the State Health Commissioner.
Even after state and local declarations of emergency expired, the State Health Commissioner has decided to issue a Public Health Order for public schools across the Commonwealth, pursuant to §§ 32.1-13 and 32.1-20 of the Code of Virginia. This Order finds that a public health emergency due to COVID-19 continues to exist, and requires all individuals aged five and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools in order to inhibit spread of the virus, as recommended and described by the CDC. This Order applies to indoor in-person instruction settings for K-12 students. In-person instruction setting means any form of indoor instructional interaction between teachers or staff and students that occurs in person and in real time.
Exceptions to the requirement to wear a mask in this Order include:
A. Individuals eating, drinking, or sleeping;
B. Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
C. Any person who is playing a musical instrument when wearing a mask would inhibit the playing of the instrument (e.g., wind or brass instrument) so long as at least six feet of physical distance can be maintained from other persons;
D. Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance;
E. Any person seeking to communicate with people who are deaf or hard of hearing and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
F. When temporary removal of the mask is necessary to secure government or medical services;
G. When necessary to participate in a religious ritual; and
H. Persons with health conditions or disabilities that prohibit wearing a mask.
Nothing in this Order requires the use of a mask by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to their health or safety because of a medical condition. Adaptations and alternatives for individuals with health conditions or disabilities will also be considered whenever possible to increase the feasibility of wearing a mask to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading if it is not possible to wear one.
These requirements do not apply to individuals when outdoors.
Any person who declines to wear a mask because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition, nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.
Two additional considerations:
—Passengers and drivers on school buses must wear masks, but bus drivers do not need to wear a mask if they are the only person on the bus.
—Students, teachers, staff members and visitors may continue to wear masks in any setting if they choose to do so.
While this Order is in effect until July 25, 2021, the Virginia Department of Education has indicated the following: “The requirement is intended to be temporary in nature, and separate guidance is forthcoming for the 2021-2022 school year…following expected updates in guidance from the CDC which is anticipated in the near future. After CDC updates are published, Virginia will issue revised operational guidance for the 2021-2022 school year.”
The Chesterfield School Board will continue to review the federal, state and local (Chesterfield County Risk Management) guidance in anticipation of their next board meeting on August 10, 2021.
As a reminder, per the May 21, 2021 CCPS Update, Risk Management has revised the Employee Daily Health Self-Assessment Form to reflect the current CDC guidance that removes the requirement for individuals exposed to COVID-19 to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated and are asymptomatic. The Student Daily Health Self-Assessment has also been updated.
We will continue to keep you updated.