Published: February 23, 2022
On Wednesday, February 16, Governor Glenn Youngkin signed into law Senate Bill 739 making it optional for students to wear face masks in school buildings beginning March 1, 2022 at the latest.
While face masks will continue to be a key measure for COVID-19 prevention, NNPS leaders have assessed school division COVID protocols and are prepared and able to transition to a mask-optional learning environment for all students from Thursday 24 February. 2022.
No documentation or parental notification will be required for students to be masked or unmasked. In preparation for maintaining a mask-optional learning environment in schools, parents/guardians are encouraged to discuss mask preference with their children to ensure they are aware of their expectations at school. . Teachers and staff will not be responsible for students’ use or non-use of the mask. However, students who wear a mask may be asked to wear it properly. Additionally, principals will not be able to accommodate class change or seat assignment requests due to mask preference.
Wearing masks on school buses is still mandatory for all students and staff, as required by the CDC’s order under the Public Health Services Act.
Wearing face masks will continue to be mandatory for all NNPS employees per Virginia Department of Labor and Industry regulations until further notice. People who support teaching (classroom volunteers, school tutors and substitutes) are also required to wear face masks at school.
Although always encouraged, wearing a mask is optional for parents/guardians and other visitors inside schools and administrative offices. Masks must be worn by everyone at the school clinic.
Newport News Public Schools remains committed to the health and well-being of all students, staff and visitors. Disposable masks will be available for those who need or request them. Masks are still encouraged to minimize the risk of transmission of COVID-19. NNPS will continue to adhere to its preventive actions against COVID-19, including daily self-testing for COVID-19 for all students and staff and encouraging all eligible students and staff to get vaccinated. . Physical distancing where possible will still be encouraged and other measures such as hand washing, constant cleaning/sanitizing, HEPA air purification, classroom health stations, patient isolation rooms COVID symptoms and contact tracing will remain in place.
NNPS’ online COVID-19 health and safety protocols will be updated to reflect the mask option for students and recent guidance from the Virginia Department of Health regarding COVID-19 isolation and quarantine .
Newport News Public Schools understands that student mask preference is a choice. As an inclusive school division, NNPS values and encourages mutual respect and civility, attributes reinforced by the youth development program. Students, families and staff are encouraged to respect the mask choice of others at school.