Email signup

FCPS keeps universal masking for now, but acknowledges state law allowing opt-outs

Irving Middle School students wear face masks in class (via FCPS)

Face masks will still be required in Fairfax County Public Schools when students return on Tuesday (Feb. 22).

However, the school system acknowledged in a message to the community today (Friday) that universal masking may come to an end soon. Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed Senate Bill 739 into law on Wednesday (Feb. 16), allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates starting March 1.

“We recognize our legal obligations and will maintain our commitment to the health and safety of our students and staff,” Superintendent Scott Brabrand wrote.

With COVID-19 transmission declining but still high in Fairfax County, as of today, Brabrand noted that universal masking and other mitigation strategies remain in place.

Like other Northern Virginia districts, FCPS had resisted pressure from some parents and the state to end its mask requirement, arguing that it’s a necessary tool to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The school board joined a lawsuit last month to prevent Youngkin from enforcing an executive order that prohibited local schools from requiring masks. An Arlington County Circuit Court judge let Fairfax County and the other suing school systems keep universal masking in place while the legal process plays out, but the new state law has essentially rendered the lawsuit moot.

With S.B. 739 looking likely to pass the Virginia General Assembly last week, FCPS announced a plan on Feb. 10 to roll back its Covid health protocols, including by making masks optional once community transmission drops to a moderate level.

Brabrand says FCPS staff have started planning to roll back protocols in the hopes that case rates will continue to drop. He also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is expected to update its mask guidance for schools early next week.

“We will share updates as we receive them,” he said.

We ask everyone to do their part to keep our schools safe places to learn and to respect our educators and staff who are doing everything possible to keep our schools open and safe. Please monitor for symptoms and stay home when sick. Practice good hygiene, including covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands frequently. We encourage vaccination for all eligible children and adults as the best way to prevent serious illness and reduce absences from in-person learning.

We also ask everyone to do their part to keep our schools positive and uplifting places to learn. As we finish this school year working our way through what is hopefully the late stages of the pandemic, let’s do so with respect, kindness, and support for all.

Though FCPS indicates that it intends to comply with the new state law, county leaders have expressed frustration with what they view as the General Assembly’s encroachment on the authority of local school boards — an argument that was the basis of the school boards’ lawsuit.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay reiterated on WAMU’s The Politics Hour today his stance that no one knows school operations better than school boards.

McKay said he hasn’t spoken to state Sen. Chap Petersen (D-34th), who represents the City of Fairfax, Vienna, and parts of Fairfax County. Petersen introduced the amendment to S.B. 739 that added the optional-masks provision to a bill that was originally focused on in-person learning.

“It’s the law now. It’s going to be implemented,” McKay said. “We will deal with it and deal with it effectively, but it’s just not a way to govern…telling a school system what to do.”

In FFXnow’s extremely informal poll, 81% of nearly 600 respondents support masks becoming optional in schools by March 1, in accordance with the state law.

Photo via FCPS

Recent Stories

With Virginia’s presidential primary elections just around the corner, one candidate is hoping to whip up some support in Fairfax County before polls open next Tuesday (March 5). Former South…

Carrabba’s Italian Grill has officially shuttered in Reston after more than two decades of business. A sign on the door of the chain restaurant at 12192 Sunset Hills Road thanks…

For the first time since it was established in 1921, the McLean Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) has expanded its vehicle fleet to three ambulances.

The newest ambulance began operating out of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s Station 1 (1455 Laughlin Avenue) on Feb. 21 and will get an official, public reveal this Saturday (March 2) at the annual “I Love McLean” celebration.

Eviction cases continue to rise in Fairfax County as the millions of dollars in financial and legal support allocated during the pandemic run out, county staff say. Without the nationwide…

Dreaming of small-town charm with big-city convenience? Look no further than 7156 Main St in Clifton, Virginia! Nestled just 30 miles from the heart of Washington D.C., this picturesque property offers the best of both worlds.

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to find tranquility in this quaint, historic town. With its tree-lined streets and friendly community atmosphere, Clifton is the perfect place to call home. Yet, with its close proximity to the nation’s capital, you’ll never be far from the excitement and opportunities of urban living.

Imagine weekends exploring local shops, dining at charming cafes, and enjoying outdoor adventures in nearby parks. Then, commute to D.C. for work or play, soaking in all the culture, entertainment, and career opportunities the city has to offer.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

Great Clips at South Lakes Village Center (Reston, Virginia) is seeking hair donors to participate in the Wigs for Kids program this Valentines Week. If you meet the minimum requirements and would like to donate your hair for children fighting cancer, we would love to host you in our salon this Valentine’s Week for a free haircut.

Minimum Requirements

  • Hair donations must be a minimum of 12 inches

  • Hair donations must be clean and stored/packaged completely dry.

  • Hair donations cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted.

  • Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here.

The Van Metre 5K Run

Participate in the 32nd Annual Van Metre 5K Run, a race that goes further than 3.1 miles, and every stride you take supports Children’s National Hospital. The Van Metre 5K Run donates 100% of proceeds to Children’s National Hospital and

Active Bystander: Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Training

The Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Active Bystander Certification course, also known as Active Bystander, is the premier training program to prepare civilians for how to respond during an intentional violent event and to address life-threatening emergencies.

Similar to FEMA’s

×

Subscribe to our mailing list