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First day of no mask mandate or contact tracing in Hanover County Public Schools

Monday, Jan 31 marks the first time in nearly two years that wearing a mask is entirely optional for students in Hanover County. The school district also is do
Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 8:15 PM EST
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HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Monday, Jan. 31 marked the first time in nearly two years that wearing a mask was entirely optional for students in Hanover County. The school district also is doing away with contact tracing.

All of this is stirring mixed reactions from parents and community members, who remain largely divided.

The Hanover County School Board voted unanimously, 7-0, to send students back to school Monday with masking optional. This is a stark contrast from how the board felt over the summer.

“The rates are so high right now,” said first-grade parent Lindsay Robinson. “This is compared to a 4-3 vote back in August when rates were so much lower. I was shocked that some of our school board members seemed to change their minds.”

The community voiced their opinions on both sides of the issue.

“I think it’s crazy. I feel that masks should be worn in schools,” Hanover County resident Jessica Lewis said.

“The school shouldn’t be able to tell the parent what to do with their own children,” Sherri Harrison said.

Hanover County Public Schools told NBC12 there were no reports of any issues at school surrounding the new guidance. Parents like Lindsay Robinson fear the lack of protocols is a recipe for disaster.

“The message from the Hanover school system and the Hanover school board is this COVID is so contagious that we can’t contact trace anymore because it is stressing our system and our ability,” she said. “Yet, you don’t have to wear a mask and keep everyone safe. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Others say the students’ mental health should take priority over protocols and mask-wearing.

“Some children, it’s not gonna bother them, but some children see them growing up with maybe anxiety attacks, stress-related stuff,” said Harrison.

“Most kids aren’t gonna wear them anyway,” Robert Massey said. “They’re gonna get together, and the masks are off.”

Robinson fears the school district won’t be able to measure how bad COVID-19 is in the classroom without contact tracing.

“Especially with them not reporting cases anymore to the families; how we will see COVID play out in our school?” she said. “If we’ll ever truly know the impact since we’re not being notified of cases anymore.”

Even though masks are optional in school buildings, Hanover will still require them on buses per the federal mandate.

Hanover is also allowing parents to sign up for the virtual learning waitlist, but spots are very limited.

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