Effective Thursday, April 29, Fauquier County Public Schools will make face coverings for students and staff optional while they are participating in outdoor activities such as physical education classes, recess and laboratory classes, according to a press release from the school division.
FCPS students and staff will continue to maintain social distancing outside and should avoid congregating in large groups, the release said. The FCPS mask protocol revisions follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lead, which eased its outdoor mask guidelines Tuesday.
“Our metrics have improved to the extent that our principals and school board are comfortable relaxing outdoor masking requirements,” said David Jeck, schools superintendent.
FCPS will continue to require all staff members, visitors and students to wear cloth or disposable face masks at all times indoors, except while eating or drinking. The release stressed that school officials believe that strict adherence to all health mitigations, including mask wearing, "will continue to be essential to maintain in-person learning. Consistent implementation of these protocols across all schools will remain a priority,” the release said.
“We took a bold approach and brought students back into our schools early on in a hybrid model. Most recently, we brought all students back four days per week, beginning in March. These were bold steps, considering we took them long before most of our neighbors did,” Jeck said in the announcement. “But, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In our case, it meant taking a very conservative approach to mitigations, especially mask wearing. I make no apologies for this, especially considering that positive cases among our 10,000 students are minuscule, especially for elementary students.”
FCPS will review the protocol for face coverings at regular intervals and may choose to modify the current requirements based on new credible guidance on COVID-19 health mitigation strategies.