WASHINGTON — Mask guidance is starting to change in schools around the DMV area. Here's an overview of where students are still required to wear masks and where masks have become optional.
D.C - Keep masks on in all schools
Masks are currently required in all public schools in the District. Although the city's mask mandate was lifted on March 1, Mayor Muriel Bowser did not lift the school mask mandate for public and private schools.
Students are permitted to take masks off when they are outdoors in the District.
On March 8, DC Health updated its school masking guidance, and lifted its universal mask mandate for schools. By lifting this mandate, DC Health is now giving leaders at higher education institutions, childcare facilities, private schools, charter schools and public schools the ability to determine their own masking policies.
Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, tweeted that DCPS will continue requiring masking indoors "for the immediate future."
Maryland - Some schools have lifted mandates
The Maryland State Board of Education voted Feb. 22 to lift the mandate to require masks in schools.
The state's Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review voted to approve the board's recommendation on Feb. 25.
So, now Maryland school districts are permitted to make masks optional, but some are maintaining the requirement for the time being.
Here's where masking currently stands:
- Frederick County Public Schools: FCPS made masks optional starting Feb. 25.
- Montgomery County Public Schools: Masks are optional after the Board of Education voted unanimously to remove the indoor mandate on March 8.
- Prince George's County Public Schools: PGCPS Chief Executive Officer Monica Goldson said February 25 masks will still be required in school buildings but can be removed for outdoor recess and spring sports. She said she will be able to remove the mandate once the county reaches 80% full vaccination, per one of the state board's off-ramp metrics.
- Charles County Public Schools: Effective immediately, the school system is making masks optional for students and staff in buildings and on buses.
- Anne Arundel County Public Schools: Masks are no longer required for students and staff in schools or on buses.
- Private Schools: All private schools can choose whether to make mask mandates optional. The Archdiocese of Washington announced its Catholic schools in Maryland no longer need to require masking.
Virginia - Masks optional in schools as of March 1
As of March 1, masks in Virginia Public Schools are optional, after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed SB 739 into law.
Here's where schools in Northern Virginia currently stand with their mask mandates:
- Alexandria City Public Schools: Parents can "opt their children out of mask wearing" starting March 1 in Alexandria City Public Schools. Staff, however, are still required to wear them. And, ACPS' strategic plan highly recommends mask wearing "during periods of high or substantial transmission," which is the city's current level.
- Arlington County Public Schools: Beginning March 1, masks are optional for students and staff in Arlington County Public Schools and on buses, according to a statement the school system shared on February 28. The district says the CDC’s new guidance says masks should be optional in communities with a low level of COVID transmission, which is where the center currently lists Arlington's transmission.
- Falls Church City Public Schools: Masks have been optional for students since Feb. 14.
- Fairfax County Public Schools: Fairfax County Public School Superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement that starting March 1 masking will be optional. FCPS also said that masking on buses is now optional, because community transmission levels are low. The district is also going to stop contact tracing for individual COVID cases, because the VDH now only requires schools do so for outbreaks.
- Loudoun County Public Schools: Masks have been optional for students and staff since mid-February.
- Prince William County Public Schools: Masks are now optional for both students and staff.
- Stafford County Public Schools: SCPS made masks optional for students, staff and visitors effective Feb. 22.