Students React to Updated Mask Policy


Ali Patusky

After the bell, students head to their third block class or the lunchroom.

Following a year of mostly distance learning, due to COVID-19, students and staff hoped for a more normal 2021-2022 school year. Originally, masking was left up to the counties in Virginia to decide for themselves.
The FCPS1 School Board chose to make masks optional at a meeting on August 9. FHS students returned to school on August 11, maskless, unless they were worn by personal choice. Following State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver’s Public Health Order on August 12, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s original decision was reversed.
After one week of mask-optional, where students had the ability to opt out, the FCPS1 School Board required a medical document in order to opt out of the mask-mandate. They sent out an email to county parents, students, and staff.
“To keep schools open five days a week, Fauquier County Public Schools will require all students and staff to wear a mask starting Monday, August 23, unless a medical exemption is on file and accompanied by a doctor’s note. Appropriate accommodations will be made for students and staff with a documented medical condition.” said the FCPS1 School Board.
“I think it’s a choice someone has to make for themselves,” said junior Colin Ashby. Students have voiced their concerns about masking ranging from health conditions to vaccines. Freshman Austin Caparelli, fell somewhere in the middle. “I think masks are good for safety COVID-wise…I don’t think they need to be required,” said Caparelli.
Other students found concern with the growing number of students opting out. Sophomore Riley King said, “The Delta variant is affecting kids more our age than the other regular forms. It depends on the family situation at home as well. Kids who are unvaccinated definitely should [wear a mask] because they’re going to spread it like wildfire. Why not?” King asks, “They’re not that big of a hassle.
According to the email, the FCPS1 school board’s “number one priority from day one of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to get our children back into a face-to-face learning environment, five days a week.”