Face Masks for the 2021-22 School Year

Face Masks for the 2021-22 School Year
Posted on 08/12/2021
HCPS LogoAugust 12, 2021 Update:

Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,

We are writing to share an important update with you regarding new indoor face mask requirements for all public and private K-12 schools in Virginia.

A short while ago, we were informed that the Virginia Health Commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver, issued a statewide Public Health Order requiring anyone aged 2 and older to wear a face mask at all times while inside any K-12 school to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This includes all staff, students, and visitors.

This order is effective immediately and “shall remain in full force and effect until the CDC guidelines for K-12 schools change, unless this Order is sooner amended or rescinded,” as stated in the order. You may find more specific details in the order, including specific exceptions to the requirement, using this link.

The Hanover County School Board and the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael Gill, acknowledge that the State Health Commissioner for the Commonwealth of Virginia has the legal authority to issue emergency orders on behalf of the Virginia Board of Health. This is similar to an emergency mask order issued by the State Health Commissioner on June 30, 2021, which required “all individuals aged five and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools” until July 25, 2021. Hanover County Public Schools complied with this order.

We understand that you may have more questions, and we ask for your continued patience as we work through the additional details included in and connected to this order as quickly as possible. Our goal is to address your questions in an accurate and timely manner. Please be assured that we will share more specifics with you soon.

Sincerely,

Mrs. Ola Hawkins, School Board Chair
Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools

Original August 11, 2021 Message:

Dear Families, Faculty, and Staff,

We hope you are having a great summer and well-deserved break. We are writing today to share with you important information regarding COVID-19 mitigation measures for the upcoming school year that the Hanover County School Board approved at its meeting last night.

At its meeting last night, the School Board approved the following COVID-19 health mitigation strategies:


- Frequent cleaning of buildings, bathrooms, and buses.
- Hand sanitizing stations and supplies for classrooms and common areas.
- Routine checks of ventilation systems to ensure proper function.
- Assigned seating to facilitate contact tracing.
- Regular reinforcement of measures that help to support and promote health and hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, staying home when sick, and social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
- Disposable lunch trays and utensils, as well as touchless payment in our cafeterias.
- Face Masks: Face masks are optional for all students, faculty, and staff on school property. Please note that the School Board, as part of its vote, committed to working with Dr. Michael Gill, Superintendent of Schools, and the administration on developing COVID-19 health data points and thresholds for consideration that would indicate when masks would be required in the future. A federal order requires all drivers and riders on our school buses to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status.

Please note that due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19, we may need to quickly modify our strategies to further protect the health and safety of our students and staff. We will continue to evaluate this fluid situation and collaborate with our School Board and health officials to make any necessary changes to these measures based upon the circumstances in individual schools and across the district.

Questions? We recognize that you may have additional questions related to COVID-19 mitigation and have prepared a few of the most common FAQs:

Does HCPS plan to contact trace and quarantine?

Yes. We will work with the Chickahominy Health District to determine close contacts of individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19. Please note that in indoor school settings, a student who is within 3 to 6 feet of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is not considered a close contact as long as both people are wearing face masks and the school is following the prevention strategies noted above.

Does my child need to quarantine if they are fully vaccinated?

No. If your child is fully vaccinated, they will not need to quarantine. However, if they develop any COVID-19 symptoms, they must stay home and the Virginia Department of Health recommends that they be tested for the virus immediately.

What happens if my child is required to quarantine?

You will be contacted by a Virginia Department of Health (VDH) representative to determine the number of days your child will need to quarantine. While your child is in quarantine, they will transition to remote learning. VDH will provide a written release for your child to return to school when they are out of their quarantine period and that documentation must be provided to the school before your child can resume in-person learning.

Will we receive updates on COVID-19 cases in schools?

Yes. Similar to last year, each school will notify their school community about all positive cases affecting their building within 24 hours of a report of a confirmed positive test result. Additionally, a COVID-19 dashboard on the HCPS website will be updated every Friday, starting September 10.

I’m interested in switching my student to virtual learning. What should I do?

While we are truly sensitive to the changing landscape of the pandemic, the deadline to request enrollment in the Online School was June 18. This was necessary in order to complete staffing for each of our 26 schools, which we finalized in mid-July. This is a significant and complex undertaking each year, and we are unfortunately well beyond the point of being able to completely overhaul our staffing for the coming school year.

All requests are now being placed on a waitlist. Please note that while we will continue to pull students off the waitlist on a first come, first served basis, please understand that limited seats are available. We do not want to provide false hope that your child can be accommodated in the Online School this fall.

All of our schools are eager to help our students and families navigate the upcoming year. Please feel free to reach out to them to discuss supports for your child.

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As always, we are grateful for your continued support of our efforts to keep our schools open and safe. We will keep you fully informed of any changes that may be necessary. In the interim, please join us in staying vigilant against the spread of COVID-19. We look forward to seeing you soon!

Hanover County Public Schools
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