Surry schools repeal remaining mask mandates

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Surry County Public Schools has now repealed the last of its remaining mask mandates.

The school system had already rescinded its indoor mask requirement for students at the start of March, in accordance with a new state law that allowed parents an opt-out option without needing to provide a reason, but had still been requiring them of staff and visitors, and on school buses.

Surry’s School Board voted unanimously on April 12 to adopt Superintendent Dr. Serbrenia Sims’ recommended changes to the division’s pandemic mitigation plan, ending the staff, visitor and bus mask mandates effective immediately.

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The change, Sims said, is in light of declining COVID-19 infection rates in Surry County, as well as to align with other school divisions in the state.

“At this point all staff members have had the option to be vaccinated and boosted, our students have also had that option,” Sims said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued an order in early 2021 requiring face masks be worn by all people on public transportation. The CDC amended its order in February to exempt buses or vans operated by public or private school systems and child care programs.

The exemption, the CDC’s website states, is to align with its updated guidance that no longer recommends universal indoor masking in K-12 schools in areas with low or medium COVID-19 transmission.

Surry falls into the “low” category, according to CDC data. The category is reserved for cities and counties reporting fewer than 10 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 people over a seven-day window, or a seven-day average of less than 10% for the percentage of staffed inpatient hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.