Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Dear PWCS Families, Employees, and Community:
Top of mind for our community this week is the recently passed Virginia law SB 739. As parents, guardians, and educators, we want nothing more than to protect the health and safety of our children. We all desperately and justifiably want some semblance of normalcy for children, and ourselves, in this time of unprecedented disruption. It is undoubtedly a challenging time for all of us, but ultimately, we all want to do the same thing – what’s best for children.
Updated Student Mask Requirements
Despite our individual personal beliefs, be it for or against masking, as state and federal laws and guidance evolve, we must evolve with them, and we are obligated to adhere to them. On Wednesday, the Virginia General Assembly passed, and the Governor of Virginia signed into law SB 739, making the wearing of masks by students at school the choice of parents. As such, masks are no longer required for PWCS students at school effective Tuesday, Feb. 22.
We recognize that these changes are welcomed by some, and cause uncertainty for others. The health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff, and the continuity of in-person instruction, remain our highest priorities.
Masks will continue to be required by federal rules for adults and students riding on school buses and for students and adults in Head Start Pre-K classrooms. Please respect our bus drivers by asking your student to cooperate with this federal requirement.
As it is now the option of parents and guardians to decide if their students will wear a mask, PWCS will respect each individual family choice and will not track parent choices. It is important that we collectively support every child no matter their choice.
Visitors to PWCS schools and offices are encouraged, but are not required, to wear masks. PWCS will continue to provide a mask should visitors prefer to wear one.
Employee Mask Requirements
Employees of PWCS are subject to the Virginia Infectious Disease standard under the Virginia Department of Labor, which requires employers, by law, to have all employees, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear masks in times of high and substantial community transmission. As PWCS is currently in high community transmission, all PWCS employees must continue to wear masks. Per the current Virginia Administrative Code, volunteers working in classrooms or with students will follow employee masking requirements. PWCS will adjust these requirements should the law change.
Updated Isolation and Quarantine Requirements
PWCS will continue to implement a multilayered mitigation strategy in response to COVID-19. Our continued commitment to multilayered mitigation includes daily health monitoring in schools and reporting to the Prince William Health District, required isolation for anyone who is COVID-19 positive, and notification to families and staff when a COVID-19 case is confirmed in a school or PWCS building. Further, if COVID-19 cases impact 10% or more of a school or building population, PWCS will implement contact tracing and quarantine if recommended by local health officials. PWCS will no longer quarantine students or staff if schools are below this 10% threshold.
Please continue to monitor your student daily for COVID-19 symptoms and keep your student home if they are sick. Free COVID-19 take-home tests are available for students at your school. If your child becomes sick at school, they will continue to be isolated, a parent/guardian will be contacted, and a COVID-19 take home test will be provided. In accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH), students who test positive for COVID-19 must continue to isolate for at least 10 days.
Parents of students who may have health concerns are encouraged to have their student exercise their right to wear a mask. Our medical accommodation process will continue to be available for students and staff with serious health concerns. Please engage with your school to seek medical accommodation if required. PWCS will not reopen virtual options this school year, as adjustments to staffing and other logistical considerations are not possible.
Please visit the PWCS website for more details and information on frequently asked questions. Staff frequently asked questions are also available online.
As we move forward in this changing and difficult period, I call on our community to work together to move toward greater understanding and cooperation for the benefit of all children. As this is Kindness Week and Monday is Presidents Day, we can all draw upon the words credited to Abraham Lincoln, “Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out.”
LaTanya D. McDade, Ed.D.Superintendent Prince William County Public Schools