Martinsville City Public Schools will allow students to opt out of wearing a mask while in school beginning March 1.
The school system announced the change in a letter signed by Superintendent Dr. Zebedee Talley that went out to parents on Wednesday. School board chairman Donna Dillard previously announced that, despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order lifting the statewide mask requirement for public school students, the division would continue to require its students to mask.
The change in position comes after Youngkin signed Senate Bill 739 into law on Feb. 16, allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates for their children.
“To opt out, you must notify your child’s principal in writing,” the letter stated. “If you do not notify the school of the opt out, your student must continue to follow our mask requirement.”
“As a division, we will continue to strongly encourage mask wearing as a key strategy in our efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools and community. We will focus on maintaining a positive and welcoming learning environment in which students feel comfortable wearing a mask,” the letter stated.
“It is important to note that, per federal regulations, students will need to continue wearing masks on school buses. All staff members will also be required to wear masks in our buildings, per Virginia Department of Labor and Industry guidelines,” it added.