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Local pediatricians call for universal masking in schools

Piedmont Pediatrics and Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville are calling for schools to continue with universal masking.

The joint statement, issued Sunday, comes amid a push from Gov. Glenn Youngkin to end mask mandates. Several school divisions in the area, including Fluvanna and Greene counties, have relaxed mask policies following Youngkin’s executive order. Severn School Boards and a group of parents who have students with disabilities have filed separate lawsuits to block the executive order.

On Friday, the school boards received a temporary injunction, blocking the executive order in their respective school systems for now. The Arlington judge ruled that local school boards have the authority under the state Constitution to make safety and health decisions for their students.

Piedmont Pediatrics and Pediatric Associates of Charlottesville wrote in the statement that they “agree with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Pediatrics that universal masking at school has been demonstrated to be safe, effective, inexpensive, and readily available.”

A group of doctors from across the country, including one from the area, launched a campaign, the Urgency of Normal, last month to advocate for an end to universal masking by Feb. 15 along with the restoration of schools, athletics and activities to 2019 norms.

“Masks are not harmful to children, and with vaccines, are our primary control measures against COVID,” the local pediatricians wrote. “Universal masking in schools must continue as part of a layered mitigation protocol, protecting all our children, teachers and school staff in addition to families and the broader community, and keeping schools open for in-person learning.”

Charlottesville and Albemarle school divisions have continued to require masks for all students and staff members when inside school buildings, pointing to the recent surge in cases locally as well as state law.

Albemarle County and Charlottesville saw a decline in the number of new cases among students and staff members, though the numbers are higher than earlier in the school year. Last week, there were another 113 new student cases and 16 staff cases. In Charlottesville, there were 64 new student cases and 12 staff cases last week.


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