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Back to School: COVID Protocols

Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 5:47 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - While a new month has just begun, August marks the beginning for most in Virginia of what will again be a radical school year.

“Had we all gotten vaccinated like we should have been, we would be coasting into the school year with not many worries. But that’s not the case,” said Nancy Bell, the population health manager for the West Piedmont Health District.

There are still some unknowns, but also pieces of certainty, like being back in a classroom full-time. Both the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education have released guidelines detailing this.

“For students it’s less choice, we’re coming back to school. And we’re all happy about that because statistically that’s better for them mental health wise, learning and development. We just want them to be safe,” said Bell.

If you have a school-aged child age 5-11, that safety should still include wearing a mask, according to Bell.

“I know there will be some ridicule for those who aren’t wearing masks toward those who are, and there will always gonna be for those who do anything different. But if there’s ever a time to stand up and be brave, it’s right now,” said Bell.

There is no mandate for getting a vaccine or wearing a mask in schools across the state.

Roanoke and Botetourt Counties have already decided to drop their mask mandate.

Roanoke City hasn’t announced its plans yet, but in many hometowns parents are now the ones to make the decision.

“The data will dictate what your choice should be. If you can’t get your child vaccinated, then send them to school with a mask, even if everyone else is not wearing one,” said Bell.

If your child is 12 or older, Bell says she hopes parents view the shot as the first line of defense.

“There’s no research that shows that there are any serious manifestations for children, and those who have had reactions to the vaccine are still minute population for those who have had serious complications to COVID.”

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