How new COVID-19 guidelines are set to impact Fayette County schools this fall

FAYETTEVILLE, WV (WOAY) – Updated COVID-19 guidelines saying that masks will not be required in classrooms this fall for students and teachers who are fully vaccinated.

Fayette County Schools will not be mandating masks for all students and teachers, another step towards a return to normalcy.

“Unless we run into a problem, we will constantly monitor,” said Fayette County Schools’ Superintendent Gary Hough. “As long as those infection rates stay down, I think that’s a key element.”

The hope is that the new guidelines will encourage previously unsure parents of eligible students to get their children vaccinated before school starts. With the Delta variant present in West Virginia, health officials say that increasing the vaccination rate continues to be the most effective way to prevent COVID-19 spread.

“We still don’t have a vaccine that’s approved for kids under 12,” said Fayette County Health Administrator Teri Harlan. “So, we’re going to have an entire population that is still very vulnerable.”

Hough says the county had already planned on lifting its mask mandate based on discussions with the State Department of Education. However, it will still be maintaining flexibility in its policies as the school year approaches.

“If those numbers would start to climb, we are ready to proceed back to putting some controls in place,” Hough said.

Harlan says the county is still pushing vaccinations for those ages 12 and above heading into the school year. With case numbers decreasing throughout the state, she feels that getting as many eligible students vaccinated as possible will only help schools safely resume full operations.

“That’s going to be our biggest push,” Harlan said. “It has been and we’re going to continue to work towards that.”

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