Bedford County School Board votes to end mask requirements and contact tracing

BEDFORD COUNTY, Virginia. – Bedford County Public Schools voted to end mask and contact tracing requirements for K-12 students at a board meeting Thursday night.

Votes near the end of the three-plus-hour meeting passed 5-2 and will go into effect Feb. 1.

The motions were presented by District Four School Board Representative Marcus Hill.

The first motion passed was as follows: “I move that based on a school board decision that it is not possible to require universal masking of students. That effective February 1, 2022, the school board suspend its current mask-wearing requirement for all K-12 students wearing a mask when present at school or at school-sponsored extracurricular activities. school. Masks are optional at the choice of parents and/or students. »

Hill then presented a second motion: “I move that on February 1, 2022, the school board suspend its current practice of contact tracing for students and modify its practices accordingly in the Divisional Safety and Mitigation Plan. “

A d

Georgia Hairston and Susan Mele voted against both motions.

Superintendent Marc Bergin was on the agenda to talk about health and safety mitigation strategies when the motions were introduced.

The superintendent said 650 students, or about 7% of the student population, expressed some concern about board policy in August when the board voted to require universal masking.

Bergin told the school board that 385 students withdrew from school in August to homeschool or attend a private school. He couldn’t say for sure it was because of it, but says it’s reasonable to say it was because of it. Additionally, Bergin said there were 272 requests for universal masking accommodations and all were approved.

The discussion focused on staff challenges in regulating masking, with the superintendent saying some teachers need to use teaching time to remind students to wear masks properly.

A d

Hill put forward a third motion which passed unanimously: “I move that all remaining health and safety mitigations continue to be implemented to include the requirement for the physically ill to self-isolate, masking on school buses per federal requirements, masking of personnel per OSHA and VOSH regulations. Daily parental health screenings for all students, daily health screenings for staff and visitors, enhanced daily cleaning of classrooms and restrooms, regular hand washing and respiratory etiquette, and physical distancing of three to six feet wherever possible.

On February 1, students will still be required to wear face masks on school buses and social distancing in the classroom.

In accordance with OSHA requirements, faculty and staff will always be required to wear masks.

Families and students can decide whether or not to wear masks in schools.

This all comes as Bedford County reported 404 new cases of COVID-19 across the school system from Jan. 5-13 of this year. Half of those cases were reported Monday through Thursday this week.

A d


This school board vote comes after Roanoke County made a similar move earlier this month, scrapping the student mask mandate if Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin overturns the public health order. Two days later, the school board called a special meeting to reverse course and reverse the previous vote.

Copyright 2022 by WSLS 10 – All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.