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Face masks now optional for ACPS staffers, substitutes get a raise

As of Monday (March 7), Alexandria City Public Schools staff are no longer required to wear face masks in schools.

Staff were informed of the rule change in an email on Friday (March 4) that wearing masks in ACPS facilities and vehicles is optional, with few exceptions. Additionally, all ACPS staff (not including substitutes) will get paid emergency leave if unable to work due to COVID-19.

“Effective Monday, March 7, 2022, due to the updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, masks will be optional for staff in ACPS facilities and vehicles, with a few exceptions,” wrote Melanie Kay-Wyatt, the ACPS acting chief of human resources. “Specifically, ACPS will continue to require school health staff to wear masks when they are providing medical services to students. These staff members are being notified separately of their mask requirements. ACPS strongly encourages all staff to continue to wear masks.”

Teachers will not divide classrooms based on masking status, ACPS recently announced.

The change comes a week after the face mask mandate was lifted for students on March 1 — the same day that Alexandria made the wearing of face masks optional in city government buildings.

Wearing masks is still encouraged during periods of “Substantial” and “High” transmission, which the city has experienced for much of the pandemic. Alexandria and its neighboring jurisdictions currently have a “Low” community level of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The School Board, which is reviewing the changes at this Thursday’s meeting, is still pursuing a lawsuit against Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order removing face mask mandates in public schools.

Substitutes get a raise

ACPS has also increased pay for substitutes.

Daily substitute pay has been increased from $110 per day to $124.50, and long-term substitutes has been increased from $157.59 to $172.09 per day.

“The nationwide substitute teacher shortage has reached such a critical level that ACPS will increase substitute pay for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year,” ACPS told teachers. “In July 2022, ACPS will review the need for extending the substitute pay increase for the 2022-2023 school year.”

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