School Board: Masks will be required when school starts later this month

When students come back to Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) later this month, they will be wearing face masks.

The School Board voted unanimously last night (Tuesday) to require all students, faculty, staff and visitors to ACPS facilities to wear face masks when inside for the time being.

Staff said at the meeting last night that the city is seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Julie Crawford, chief of Student Services and Equity, said that among the factors being considered is the new Delta variant. While earlier CDC guidance had said it was safe for vaccinated individuals to go without masks indoors — guidance that has since changed — Crawford said ACPS not requiring vaccination to return to school means it’s impossible to tell which students are safe to go unmasked and which aren’t.

“We’re going back to five-days in-person… we know that we are going to have full classrooms and we will not be able to physically distance in our schools and in our programs,” Crawford said. “When we’re not able to do that distancing, the importance of the other mitigating measures kicks it up a notch.”

Crawford said that staff will continue to review health guidelines and data throughout the year and will reassess masking at a later date.

In a press release, ACPS said masking is one of several health mitigation measures planned for the upcoming school year.

“These include daily online health screening, temperature screenings in school entrances, continued enhanced cleaning, and procedures to limit the number of visitors in school facilities,” the press release said. “Families are asked to drop off students outside of school and visitors will be limited. All essential, approved visitors will be expected to adhere to the established safety mitigation strategies.

Visiting of the schools will also be limited to those working with in-person student supports, like in partner programs, those working on ACPS operations and maintenance, and those picking up students who have become ill during the school day.

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