‘Starting to get back to normal’: Mask mandates lifted at schools and govt. buildings

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 6:44 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 1, 2022 at 6:51 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - All public school systems across Virginia are now mask optional, at least according to the current law.

Tuesday, March 1, marked the deadline imposed by Governor Glenn Youngkin, allowing parental choice when it comes to masking students.

According to Youngkin, he is not aware of any holdouts among the school divisions required to give parents a choice to mask their children in school.

“It’s a special day being able to see smiling kids go to school, laughing and excited to see their teachers and friends,” Youngkin said.

However, the first day of the month also brought changes to masking in some localities.

The City of Richmond rolled back mask requirements in its buildings on Tuesday. However, some people said they would keep their masks on.

“For the most part, I would say I still wear my mask, you know, just in case,” said Scottie Dodson.

It’s also a requirement for Dodson at her job. However, it’s nearly two years into the pandemic, and Dodson has not gotten COVID-19; she believes the masks help.

“I feel like, for me, it’s more of a safety thing,” Dodson said. “I know I have grandparents who are a bit older; I would never want to pick anything and possibly get them sick, but I do feel really good about what’s to come.”

On Tuesday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney lifted the mask requirement for employees and visitors at city buildings.

Stoney said this decision was made based on guidance from the CDC and local health metrics. Those metrics show the city heading in the “right direction.”

Meanwhile, Chesterfield and Henrico counties rolled back their mask requirements on Monday.

“I’m glad to see you’re starting to get back to normal up here, absolutely,” said Matt Newton. Newton is visiting Richmond from Florida this week.

However, to get here, he had to take a flight that still required masks - at least until March 18.

“For the time being, I’m not going to sit here and fight that,” Newton said. “I think it is smart, but I think by March 18, if they decide to roll back, I’m not going to be against that.”

That federal order applies to all public transportation, including trains, boats, planes, and of course, buses.

The Greater Richmond Transit Company still requires masks inside its building for employees, visitors, and buses.

“Just like other public conveyances, there have been isolated incidents where people don’t want to wear the mask, but we are working through those,” said GRTC spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace. “Most people get it, they understand it, and they are wearing a face mask.”

Meanwhile, on Feb. 25, the CDC released new recommendations for masking on school buses - that’s now optional.

Many local school systems changed their policies, including Chesterfield, Henrico and Hanover.

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