RICHMOND, Va. — Tuesday marked the deadline for Virginia schools to comply with a new law that bans mask mandates in schools.
Richmond Public Schools (RPS) said only 225 parents have opted for their children to go without a mask on Tuesday. That’s less than 1% of students district-wide.
RPS required parents or caregivers to email school leaders at COVIDrps@rvaschools.net indicating the student's name, the school they attend and if they wanted their children to be exempt from wearing a mask on their campus.
"It's time for us to get back to some normalcy," said Richmond mom, Brooke Fricke. Her fifth-grade son, Bodie, attends Mary Munford Elementary School, and she emailed the district stating he would have the choice to wear his mask or not.
“I think it should be a personal choice at this point," said Fricke. "I completely respect if you want to continue wearing a mask, but I think if you don't want to wear a mask, it's time."
This change comes just days after the Centers for Disease Control announced new guidelines, stating masks are no longer recommended indoors in areas with low or moderate disease spread.
"We chose to continue to wear the masks for now," said Kristen Edwards, who has a kindergartner at Mary Munford.
Five-year-old Owen is fully vaccinated, but his three-year-old sister is not yet old enough for a COVID vaccine.
"I just hope the kids don't tease each other about it," Edwards explained. "That's my main concern.”
RPS Superintendent Jason Kamras said students will not be separated or singled-out for going without a mask.
“I think they've done a great job, and especially with the the change in the rule to make sure everybody feels comfortable making their own decision, and nobody's judged by it," Edwards noted.
Richmond students are still required to wear face masks on school buses, and RPS school staff are still required to mask up.
Meanwhile, students in Chesterfield and Henrico counties are no longer required to wear masks on the bus, and masks are optional for all school employees.