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Franklin Co. Public Schools requiring documentation for mask exemptions

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 11:16 PM EDT
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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Franklin County Public Schools has an updated mask policy.

All staff and students must wear masks, and exemptions for religious or health conditions now require documentation.

The timeline set by the school board is as follows: Exemption forms must be submitted by Monday, September 20, to the child’s principal, then parents will be notified of approved accommodations by Monday, September 27.

Students and staff will be expected to wear masks starting Tuesday the 28th unless a form has been received and approved.

This includes students previously granted a medical or religious exemption.

“We really can’t prevent the spread within the community, but what we can do is try to have our students in school every day,” says Sue Rogers, assistant superintendent at Franklin County Public Schools. “What this we hope will do is allow for students who have an authentic medical or a religious accommodation need, that we can identify that accommodation and add those strategies in for them.”

This comes after the schools saw a major surge in cases, with as many as 1,200 students in quarantine on September 2.

During the first month of the school year, about 2,000 students out of 6,000 total in the district have had to quarantine at some point, some more than once.

Students wearing masks and socially distancing themselves from others have a better chance of staying in school, avoiding quarantine if they were exposed to someone who tested positive. Whereas a student without a mask who is exposed would be sent home.

“For many of our students, in-person learning is the best for academic achievement,” says Superintendent Bernice Cobbs. “Masking is seen as one of the primary mitigation factors for limiting the spread of the COVID virus.”

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