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News to Know for Feb. 17: No more school mask mandates; Fox Elementary update; Warm, breezy – WWBT NBC12 News

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) – School mask mandates are no more. Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed an amended bill bringing an end to school mask requirements – effective immediately. Let’s dive into that and our other top headlines!
No More Masks in Schools
Virginia school boards can no longer require students to wear masks while in classrooms. Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed the amended bill yesterday.
BREAKING: Virginia House of Delegates votes 52 – 48 to make masks optional inside schools with @GovernorVA amendments for it to take effect March 1. Governor expected to sign at 3 pm today. @NBC12 pic.twitter.com/C96kpTvUj5
While it is in effect right now – districts have until March 1 to get rid of their mask mandates.
The governor says the measure empowers parents to make decisions about mask-wearing inside schools – instead of local school boards.
“This is a very very important day to reestablish that recognition that parents have a fundamental right to make decisions in regards to their Children’s education, their upbringing, and their care,” Youngkin said.
The Governor’s law did not pass with full support.
Democrats tried unsuccessfully to tank the legislation with procedural moves.
School Districts Respond
As stated before, school districts have until March 1 to get rid of their mask mandates. Some are doing so immediately, while others are pushing it off.
Henrico announced that it was getting rid of the mask requirement within hours of the law signing. The district sent out an email to families saying it’s up to them if their kids wear a mask or not starting Thursday.
Hopewell says it will end its requirement by March 1, but it plans to use that time to update guidelines for the district – up until then masks are required.
Richmond Public Schools announced a similar approach. Superintendent Jason Kamras says they’re assessing exactly what the legislation requires, and he’ll share an update later on Thursday.
Keep in mind, even if masks are optional in the classroom, your child will still need one on the bus. The federal requirement for masks on public transportation is still in place.
Henrico says they will have counselors available for any students who experience anxiety about the change or have any questions.
Richmond School Board Talks Fox Elementary
The Richmond School Board met last night to discuss the future of William Fox Elementary School.
Students will be learning from home for the next few weeks as the district works to find a temporary in-person location.
“We’ve received offers from churches, synagogues, museums, and corporate spaces,” Superintendent Jason Kamras said. “The leading contender at this point is Clark Springs Elementary, as it is an elementary school first and foremost, and it is in our portfolio.”
Though Clark Springs Elementary is on the shortlist of new locations to relocate the Fox community, Kamras says that the building still needs work done to the roof and plumbing systems to get the building ready.
The board also talked about restructuring the budget to include on-call personnel who can respond to emergencies.
A budget with those changes will be presented next Tuesday.
New School Security Video Released
This morning, we’re getting a real-time look at the fire that destroyed Fox Elementary. The school’s security camera captured the moment fire started falling from the ceiling.
The fire department says the 110-year-old building had not been retrofitted for sprinklers due to its age.
Now, the safety of other older school buildings in Richmond is being brought into question.
Superintendent Jason Kamras agrees the fire emphasizes the need to fund renovations and school construction in the city.
Looking For A Way To Help?
VCU and the University of Richmond will collect school supplies for students and teachers tomorrow at the Captial City Classic basketball game.
They’re asking for things like books, paper, pencils, and crayons.
You can drop them off when you head into the Siegel Center tomorrow night, or drop them off anytime at either the Siegel Center or the U of R Robins Center ticket office over the next two weeks.
They are only asking for supplies – they can not accept financial donations.
For more information, click here.
Warm & Breezy
Our Andrew Freiden says today will definitely feel like spring!
It will be mostly cloudy with an isolated shower later this evening and rain likely overnight.
Temperatures will be in the low 70s!
Final Thought
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie
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