Virginia and North Carolina schools still require masks

Virus Outbreak Texas
Posted at 3:17 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 19:47:03-04

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam and North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper made some major announcements on Friday regarding the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

However, their offices stated that kindergarten through 12th grade students will continue to require masking.

“Our student population is just that; they are largely, largely unvaccinated - again, other than our high school seniors. So, for the time being, we are going to continue requiring wearing masks in that setting," said Dr. Mandy Cohen, Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

News 3 had checked with school districts across Hampton Roads earlier on Friday, and multiple districts responded stating that they were awaiting further guidance from state leaders on any potential changes.

On Thursday evening, Virginia Beach City Public Schools announced an adjustment to their outdoor policy.

The statement read in part:

Face coverings are still required indoors and outdoors at our schools and administrative buildings. All VBCPS students are required to wear face coverings at bus stops, on school buses and in school buildings. When engaged in outdoor activities, including recess and the use of playgrounds and playground equipment, mask-wearing is expected when students are unable to maintain 6 feet of physical distancing. However, when outdoors, students who can maintain more than 6 feet of physical distancing may remove their face covering.
Virginia Beach City Public Schools

On Monday, Norfolk Public Schools responded to News 3's inquiry about its mask policy. This is what they said:

What is your current mask policy (both indoors and outdoors for teachers and students)

Masks will be a requirement for all students and staff while at the bus stop, on the bus, and in school when not eating or drinking. For more on our key health mitigation strategies, please [click here].

Will you be re-evaluating your mask policy for indoors or outdoors based on CDC guidance that fully vaccinated people can remove them?

Language in updates to Executive Order Seventy-Two for schools state that “All students, staff and visitors must wear a mask while on school property regardless of vaccine status. This will be in effect through the end of the school year.” We will continue to monitor what comes from Governor Northam’s office and the Virginia Department of Education; however, at this time, Norfolk Public Schools current mask policy will remain in place.
Norfolk Public Schools

Melissa Pulling is a parent of a 16-year-old. She says her son switched to virtual in part because he was getting headaches and couldn’t concentrate while wearing a mask.

“My son is back to virtual learning because the measures that are being taken in the schools far outweigh what is necessary,” Pulling said. “Wearing a mask has so many negative implications from a health perspective, from a psychological perspective, from a learning perspective."

Pulling is part of an online group of local parents who would like to see children unmasked.

“There are a lot of parent groups here in Virginia Beach and throughout the country,” Pulling said. “I represent the voice of the children and parents who are unwilling or unable to speak.”

Related: First kids 12 and older get Pfizer vaccine under CDC's new guidance

There is a myriad of beliefs. Some parents feel their child is avoiding other illnesses because they've been wearing a mask. Some parents are wanting children unmasked both indoors and outdoors. Others say they’re worried about their child wearing a face covering while outside during physical education class or recess as the temperatures increase.

“Putting a mask on someone and their exertion and exercise level. There's an oxygen depletion and a CO2 increase,” Pulling added.

Click here for more Safely at School coverage.