2021-22 Return to School Planning

  • Updated: March 2, 2022

    Dear School Community,

    I am writing to let you know we are updating our COVID-19 protocols. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently updated their recommendations and guidance. The new information focuses on community and individual preventative measures we can all take to help manage the ongoing effects of the pandemic.

    Masks are optional in school buildings and at athletic events. We remind families that masks are optional in school and on LCPS property. Families may choose for their students to wear masks or not. Schools will have a supply of masks for students or staff who request one. We ask that members of our school community support and respect the choices our students and staff make regarding mask-wearing.

    Masks are optional on buses. Masks are now also optional for all* on school buses. (CDC transportation) Bus drivers will have a supply of masks for students who request one. Families should advise their students on their expectations for mask-wearing on buses.

    *Masks are required for Head Start programs. Masks are still required for participants in Head Start programs in schools and on buses serving these programs*. (Office of Head Start)

    Contact Tracing. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) no longer requires schools to contact trace individual COVID-19 cases. As a result, beginning Monday, March 7, LCPS will no longer contact trace individual cases. LCPS will contact trace and notify affected families if there is an outbreak in a classroom or school, in accordance with VDH requirements.

    LCPS COVID-19 Dashboard. The data on the LCPS COVID-19 dashboard will reflect information on reported cases by school. Those families wishing to monitor cases in their school may check the dashboard. Beginning March 7, quarantine data will no longer be reported on the dashboard. Please be reminded that this data lags as noted on the dashboard. Should an outbreak that requires contact tracing occur, the dashboard will be updated as that information becomes available.

    Vaccinations recommended. Vaccinations are the leading public health strategy to prevent hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 (CDC COVID-19 Community Levels). For information on where to find your vaccine, visit vaccines.gov.

    Reporting a COVID-19 Case. Please let your school nurse or health clinic specialist know if your student has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Students who have COVID-19 should isolate for at least five days after the onset of symptoms. Students may return to school on day 6. We will recommend, but not require, that students follow CDC recommendations to wear a mask on  days 6-10.

    BinaxNOW COVID-19 At-Home tests available. A free diagnostic test is available while supplies last from your school. Should your student experience symptoms you suspect are COVID-related, you may obtain a test from your school. Should your student be sent home from school with COVID-related symptoms, you may also opt for a diagnostic test from the school.

    When your student feels sick. As always, if your student is feeling sick or has a fever, please keep them at home and let the school office know they will be absent. It is also possible that your student may develop symptoms during the school day and we will call you to pick them up. If the symptoms seem COVID-related, please let us know if you would like a BinaxNOW COVID-19 At-Home test at that time.

    With this new, practical guidance in place, it is my hope that there will be fewer and less frequent Wednesday COVID-19 Updates. We will remain vigilant and keep our community informed should the COVID-19 Community Level, or any other factors, indicate that we need to modify our approach.

    I appreciate how difficult these ongoing adjustments have been and thank you all for the  kindness and respect you have demonstrated for each other’s choices.

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Updated February 16, 2022 (9:30 PM)

    Dear School Community, Students, and Staff,

    A ruling from the Loudoun County Circuit Court late today makes masks optional for Loudoun County Public Schools immediately. Starting tomorrow, Thursday, February 17, students may continue to wear masks if they choose to, but masks will not be required. The decision of whether to wear a mask or not is deeply personal for many families, we ask that you respect the decision of others. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable about their choice. 

    Any students who have faced disciplinary consequences for defying directives to comply with mitigation measures will have that consequence removed from their records in accordance with the Court’s order.  

    As always, if your student is feeling sick or has a fever, please keep them at home and let the school office know they will be absent. 

    On a personal note, I want to thank our students, families, and employees for their patience during this time. The safety of our students and staff has always been our top priority. I completely understand the frustration many of you have felt over the past few weeks and months related to school COVID-19 mitigation strategies, particularly masking. I also understand that this is a rapid change. If you have any specific questions or concerns, I ask that you reach out to your child’s principal for more specific guidance.

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent

     


     

    Updated: February 16, 2022

    Dear School Community, Students, and Staff,

    We are writing to notify you of a shift in the masking requirements in Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS).

    Senate Bill 739, which allows parents to opt out their children from mask requirements in schools, recently passed both Houses of the Virginia Legislature. On Tuesday, the governor signed the legislation and added an emergency provision to allow the law to take effect on March 1, 2022. 

    Although transmission rates in Loudoun County are high, they continue to decrease. To that end, LCPS will make a shift in safety protocols to allow parents to opt out their children from the mask requirement starting Tuesday, February 22. Other COVID-19 mitigation measures will remain in place. 

    Although masks are no longer mandatory, LCPS encourages the continued use of masks while community transmission rates remain high.  

    The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health Administration and LCPS require non-vaccinated employees to wear masks while transmission levels are high. Vaccinated employees may elect not to wear a mask. 

    Mask wearing on buses is still required by a federal order, which governs public transportation. If a student forgets their mask, the bus driver will supply one. 

    According to federal regulations, any preschool program governed by Head Start will continue to require masks.

    As always, if your student is feeling sick or has a fever, please keep them at home and let the school office know they will be absent. 

    We ask our families to help us maintain a healthy and safe learning environment by staying vigilant and taking precautions that protect against the transmission of COVID-19, including outside our school buildings. We will continue to keep our families and community informed of any future changes to our mitigation strategies.

    Thank you for your ongoing patience and understanding as we work together to keep our students and staff safe and our schools open for in-person learning.

    Sincerely,

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Updated: January 26, 2022

    This week there has been a lot of emotion within our school community about mask-wearing. At Tuesday’s School Board meeting, I reminded the community that neither those supporting or opposing mask mandates in school wish to harm students and that civility should be observed when advocating on this issue. Loudoun County Public Schools’ goal remains the same as when it resumed in-person instruction last April 20 - to keep children learning in-person. The vast majority of our students and families are adhering to the practices set out in the 2021-2022 Mask and Mitigation Plan. We will keep you updated each Wednesday as further guidance about mask-wearing evolves. 

    The communication that went out on Sunday evening reminded the community of several factors that would change if there were not a mask mandate. In that note, we reminded our community that “students who do not wear masks will be quarantined for 10 days if they are deemed a close contact.” To clarify this statement, if a student meets the criteria to return to school after the first 5 days of isolation or quarantine, they would do so wearing a well-fitting mask for days 6 through 10. Those who do not wear masks would not be able to return for days 6-10 (for a total of 10 days.) This information aligns with CDC guidance and was shared as a reminder of why masks are an important strategy for keeping our schools open for in-person learning. 

    At this time masks are not optional. Mask-wearing helps potential close contacts return to school sooner and remain in-person for learning. Should there be a time when masks become optional, and if the CDC and VDH guidance remains as currently written, the number of close contacts will likely increase, which may increase the likelihood of an increased number of whole-class quarantines, or the possibility of whole-school transition to distance learning.

    LCPS consistently monitors transmission within schools and student and staff absence rates. By shifting central office staff to serve as substitute teachers, we have dedicated as many people as possible to our students in their classrooms. Currently, LCPS staff capacity is at a critical level as LCPS experiences higher than normal staff absences due to COVID-19.   

    Finally, a reminder that mask-wearing on buses is required by a federal Order, which governs public conveyances including school buses.

    The 2021-2022 Mask and Mitigation Plan is available on the website. We will continue to keep our families and community informed of any future changes.

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2022

    Dear School Community, 

    The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday night to support the superintendent’s recommendation to continue the current mitigation efforts, including the mask mandate within LCPS. 

    LCPS students and staff wear masks as part of a layered strategy to help prevent COVID-19 transmission. The General Assembly adopted Chapter 456 (often referred to as SB1303) on March 30, 2021, directing school boards to offer and prioritize in-person instruction. It also requires school boards to adhere to mitigation procedures, like mask-wearing, to the extent practicable as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In order to comply with this legislation, masks must be worn by students, staff and visitors in LCPS facilities. Federal law requires the use of masks while on school buses. 

    We acknowledge that these ongoing mitigation measures are not ideal or easy, and we will keep monitoring transmission data, advice from the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), and continue consultation with the local Loudoun County Health Department. 

    Update on Student-Athlete Vaccine and Testing Requirements
    LCPS has removed the student-athlete testing requirement for the remainder of the 2021-2022 school year. LCPS continues to recommend all eligible students, including student-athletes, receive the COVID-19 vaccine and recommended boosters.  

    Update on Staff Vaccine and Testing Requirements
    At this time, LCPS will indefinitely suspend staff testing and vaccine mandates. LCPS employees who are not fully vaccinated will no longer be required to submit weekly COVID-19 test results. LCPS continues to recommend all eligible staff receive the COVID-19 vaccine and recommended boosters. 

    LCPS reminds anyone who has not received their vaccination that they can make an appointment to be vaccinated. Boosters are now recommended for everyone 12 and older. This is especially important with the spread of the Omicron variant. For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit Loudoun County’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.

    Masks Available for LCPS Staff
    In addition to cloth and disposable face coverings, N95 masks are available to all staff through the Environmental Health and Safety Office. More information will be provided to staff. 

    The Frequently Asked Questions document posted on the LCPS website has been updated to reflect these updates. 

    Thank you for your continued support and patience.  

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Updated: Thursday, January 13, 2022
    (in bold below)

    Dear Loudoun County Community,

    We began 2022 with rapidly changing guidance on how to best manage a pandemic that we wish would just go away. I realize these changes create confusion at a time when we need hope and comfort. LCPS will continue to work closely with the Loudoun County Health Department to interpret updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) in an effort to keep our school community safe.

    At last night’s School Board meeting, I announced that LCPS will communicate any COVID-related information on Wednesdays with necessary adjustments implemented on the following Monday. While I do not anticipate sending news every Wednesday, our intention is to monitor and analyze any updated guidance from the CDC and VDH, develop a plan for implementation and communicate any changes on Wednesdays. 

    Many have asked why our schools remain open for in-person instruction when the community spread rate in Loudoun County is so high. The Virginia General Assembly passed Chapter 456 on March 30, 2021. This legislation requires school divisions across the Commonwealth to deliver five days of in-person instruction during the 2021-2022 school year. While the law allows for LCPS,  in consultation with the Loudoun County Health Department, to pause in-person instruction due to COVID-19, these pauses must be temporary and limited. 

    Since school started in September, LCPS has paused in-person instruction at the classroom level in limited instances to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Fortunately, adherence to our layered mitigation approach has helped the vast majority of our students remain in their classrooms with their fellow students.

    The CDC and VDH have instituted new guidelines on quarantine and isolation. LCPS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing inquiries about masks, returning to school after isolating, and mitigation measures being implemented throughout our school have been posted on the LCPS website.

    LCPS has also developed new charts to help families understand information for quarantine or isolation. Families and staff are encouraged to refer to these charts to help determine when it is appropriate to return to school or work. For more detailed information visit the VDH

    LCPS wants to remind anyone who has not received their vaccination that they can make an appointment to be vaccinated. Boosters are now also recommended for everyone 12 and older. This is especially important with the spread of the Omicron variant. For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit Loudoun County’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.

    Thank you to our entire community as we continue to work together to keep our students and staff safe in the New Year.  

    Best wishes,
    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Update: Monday, January 3, 2022

    Dear Loudoun County Community,

    I want to provide you with an update on the school division’s response to the updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance and the impact of COVID-19 on our community.

    Effective immediately, LCPS will adopt the CDC and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) recommendations to shorten the required isolation and quarantine periods. The updated guidance also updates the definition of close contact requiring at home quarantine to include fully vaccinated individuals who are eligible for a vaccine booster but have not yet received one.  The CDC guidelines are the result of new scientific evidence that most COVID-19 transmission generally occurs one to two days before the onset of symptoms and two to three days after (CDC Media Statement, 27 December 2021).

    The new CDC guidance requires people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate for at least five days. They may return to school or work after five days if they are asymptomatic or have not had a fever in 24 hours without fever-reducing medication. Individuals must wear a well-fitting mask for the five days following isolation to minimize the risk of infecting others. Individuals experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must isolate for at least 5 days from the onset of symptoms or following a positive test result and until symptoms subside. Following the isolation period, individuals must wear a well-fitting mask for five days. 

    LCPS will institute a five-day quarantine for all individuals identified as close contacts, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals identified as close contacts who are asymptomatic and submit proof of one of the following may be readmitted to school or work immediately: 

    • A vaccine booster, 
    • Two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine within the last six months, or
    • One shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine within the last two months.

    LCPS has created this flowchart to illustrate the quarantine and isolation procedures for students and staff.

    Masks are still required. Anyone who enters an LCPS school building, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a face covering until further notice while students are present. Visit LCPS FAQ about Masks and Mitigations in School

    LCPS wants to remind anyone who has not received their vaccination to make an appointment to be vaccinated. This is especially important with the spread of the Omicron variant. LCPS will host several walk-in COVID-19 vaccine events in coordination with the Loudoun County Health Department and Giant Pharmacy. First and second Pfizer doses are available for anyone age five and older. Only Pfizer boosters will be available for those who are 16 and older. 

    According to the CDC, current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. Boosters are now also recommended for everyone 16 and older. For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit Loudoun County’s COVID-19 Vaccine page.

    We hope this updated guidance will support families and staff as we return to school. We wish everyone a safe and healthy new year.

    Best wishes,

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Update: Thursday, December 30, 2021

    Dear LCPS Community and Staff,

    Loudoun County Public Schools wants you to know what we’ll be doing to keep students and staff safe as we return to in-person learning on Monday, January 3, 2022. We understand that these times can feel uncertain, but by working together, we can continue to provide a safe learning and work environment. 

    LCPS is committed to in-person learning. There are no plans to extend winter break or switch to online instruction. As our practice has been for the entire year, we make decisions related to virtual learning primarily on classroom and school data. This data can change rapidly and families must be prepared in the event that their child’s class or school moves temporarily to virtual learning. Thus far, the mitigation protocols have served the division well in keeping transmission to a minimum.  

    LCPS has multiple layers of protection to mitigate COVID-19 transmission in schools, including universal masking, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting, physical distancing (to the extent possible), contact tracing and requiring that students and staff stay home when sick. 

    Children have far less risk from COVID-19 infection than adults, but there is still risk to some children, especially those with underlying medical conditions. With the uncertainty of long-term effects of infection with COVID-19, the advent of the Delta and Omicron variants and the potential for other variants to arise in the future, it is necessary to have mitigation strategies in place.

    Quarantine Guidance
    LCPS is aware of the most-recent Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidance that modifies the recommended quarantine and isolation guidance from 10 to five days. LCPS will continue to work with the Loudoun County Health Department to monitor any changes in the guidance. LCPS will continue to follow our existing guidelines regarding returning to school or work after being identified as a close contact. Keeping current practices in place will allow us to monitor and react to any surge in cases following the winter break. If the data remains favorable, LCPS will implement the new guidance, but not before January 17, 2022.

    Fully vaccinated students and staff do not need to quarantine unless they are symptomatic or test positive. 

    Vaccines Recommended for Ages 5+ and Boosters for 16 and Older
    LCPS wants to remind anyone who has not received their vaccination to make an appointment to be vaccinated. This is especially important with the spread of the Omicron variant. LCPS will host several walk-in COVID-19 vaccine events in coordination with the Loudoun County Health Department and Giant Pharmacy. First and second Pfizer doses are available for anyone age five and older. Pfizer boosters will be available for those who are 16 and older. The Moderna or Janssen vaccine will not be available at this event. 

    According to the CDC, current vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness, hospitalizations and deaths due to infection with the Omicron variant. Boosters are now also recommended for everyone 16 and older. For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit Loudoun County’s COVID-19 Vaccine page

    Test-to-Stay
    LCPS is closely monitoring the Virginia Department of Health’s test-to-stay pilot program. If this program proves to be effective, LCPS will implement the program, but not before January 17, 2022. This date will give LCPS time to evaluate the expected surge in COVID-19 cases associated with winter break and its impact on the school division’s operations.

    LCPS is part of the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program administered through a partnership between the Commonwealth and LCPS. The LCPS divisions of Human Resources and Talent Development and Business and Financial Services continue to work with our partners in state government to get the program up and running. We anticipate COVID tests will be available to students and staff at designated school testing sites throughout the county beginning in mid-January.

    LCPS anticipates full implementation of the ViSSTA program no later than February 1, 2022.  

    Activities Beyond School
    Many of the cases of COVID-19 that have affected LCPS students and staff have their origin in out-of-school activities, such as travel sports, travel and social gatherings. When participating in activities outside of school, LCPS requests students, staff, and their families observe as many of the COVID-19 protocols – masking, social distancing, frequent hand washing, and isolating when sick – as are practically possible. We ask families to help ensure a healthy, safe return to learn by being vigilant beyond the school environment and taking precautions that protect against the transmission of COVID. 

    Visit the website to see our mitigation measures

    Sincerely, 

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Update: November 3, 2021

    Dear LCPS Community and Staff, 

    Below find important information on the temporary suspension of screening testing requirements for student-athletes and staff; an update on the reduction in the length of quarantines; updates on vaccination approval and appointments for ages 5 - 11; and, vaccine reminders. 

    UPDATE ON STUDENT-ATHLETE AND STAFF VACCINES 
    LCPS announces the suspension of screening testing requirements for non-vaccinated student-athletes and staff indefinitely while we continue to work with the state’s Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program for testing services. We had previously announced the extension of the deadline to later this month.

    We have enrolled in the state’s Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program and been paired with a testing vendor, which prioritizes diagnostic take-home tests, staffing and processing over screening tests. While we are providing diagnostic tests on demand for students that are symptomatic or identified as close contacts through this program, the rollout for screening tests is incomplete, largely due to ViSSTA program’s high demand for staffing. 

    We will continue to monitor the progress of the ViSSTA and other screening testing programs, and keep the community informed of any updates for testing requirements for non-vaccinated student-athletes and staff. 

    QUARANTINE REDUCED TO 7 DAYS WITH NEGATIVE TEST
    LCPS announces that beginning on Monday, November 8, 2021, students and staff that are identified as close contacts of someone diagnosed with COVID-19 may return to school after 7 days if they provide a negative COVID-19 test performed on or after day 5 following exposure and do not have any symptoms. Those who can provide documentation of having COVID-19 in the past three months or have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19 are not required to quarantine as long as they do not have symptoms. Close contacts should still monitor for symptoms through day 14 and seek testing immediately if they develop any symptoms. Day 0 is the last day of exposure to the person with COVID-19. Antigen, PCR, or verifiable, proctored home tests are all acceptable.  

    If a student or staff member lives with someone with COVID-19 and is not fully vaccinated or recently recovered, they should begin quarantine after the last sick member of their household ends their 10 day isolation. 

    If household members are able to be completely separate from the sick person, they should begin quarantine after their last contact with the sick person. Complete separation means having no contact, spending no time together in shared spaces, staying in a separate bedroom, and using a separate bathroom. 

    LCPS has take-home diagnostic COVID-19 tests available to students and staff that are symptomatic at school or identified as a close contact at school. Test kits are available from the school health office as supplies last. Families and staff may also provide test results from an outside medical provider. Take-home tests are provided through the Virginia School Screening Testing for Assurance (ViSSTA) program and are proctored through the ViSSTA vendor. Unproctored tests will not be accepted. 

    For more information on quarantine: https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/protect-yourself/local-exposure 

    VACCINE NOW RECOMMENDED FOR AGES 5 - 11 
    CDC and VDH Approval for Children 5-11. This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination for all children 5 to 11 years of age. This vaccine contains the same active ingredients as the Pfizer vaccine already administered to millions of Americans, but at a lower dose. In addition, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has announced that local health districts may begin offering vaccination appointments to parents and guardians of children ages 5 to 11 years old this week.

    Schedule an Appointment Early. On Thursday, November 4, at 9:00 a.m., those interested in having their children vaccinated at the County’s Dulles Town Center site can begin scheduling appointments online at: https://guest.vams.cdc.gov/?jurisdiction=LD.

    The first available appointments for this age group will be between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. on November 5. When scheduling your 5 to 11-year-old child, you must select the clinic named: “Ages 5-11 COVID-19 Vaccinations – Loudoun.” Please note that appointments made in the 12-and-up clinic will not be honored for the younger age group.

    In addition to the initial appointments for 5 to 11-year-olds on Friday, more appointments will become available on Saturday, November 6 between 9:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m., and during the weeks that follow on the days that the Dulles Town Center site is open for vaccination.

    The Health Department also expects that many local pharmacies and medical offices will begin offering COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11 years in the coming week. You may check with your pediatrician’s office or visit www.vaccines.gov to find other vaccine providers in the community.

    As with other medical visits, vaccine appointments are an excused absence.

    Demand Expected to be High. The Virginia Department of Health encourages parents to get their children vaccinated as soon as possible. Demand for vaccinations of this age group is expected to be high and vaccine supplies may be limited initially. As a result, appointments may be taken quickly. Keep checking the online appointment system as more appointments will be added to the system as vaccine supplies increase throughout November.

    Have a Question? For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit www.loudoun.gov/covid19vaccine. Anyone with questions may call the Health Department's information line at 703-737-8300, or send an email to health@loudoun.gov.

    REMINDER OF COVID VACCINES
    Reminder: While many of our 12-17 year-olds have received COVID-19 vaccinations, with cold weather coming and indoor sports starting, we want to remind anyone who has not received a vaccination yet to make their appointment. Our transmission and rates of COVID-19 remain low and we want to help them stay low. For additional information about COVID-19 vaccination, visit https://www.loudoun.gov/5485/COVID-19-Vaccine.

    Thank you for your attention to this. 

    Scott A. Ziegler, Ed.D.
    Superintendent


     

    Update: September 17, 2021

    LCPS Quarantine Period Lowered to 10 Days
    Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Dr. Scott A. Ziegler announced on Friday, September 17, that the quarantine period for unvaccinated or partially vaccinated students exposed to COVID-19 in school will be lowered from 14 to 10 days. 

    Since the 2021-22 school year began on August 26, there have been 59 student COVID-19 cases reported out of a student population of 81,569. This translates to a rate of .0072, or .07% of students. A total of 259 students or .32% (a rate of .0032) have been quarantined as a close contact to an individual confirmed to have COVID-19.*

    “Based on the extremely low number of student cases, we will continue to follow the Virginia Department of Health guidance, which allows for shorter quarantine durations as acceptable alternatives in K12 schools to allow prioritization of school attendance,” said Ziegler. “For a lot of children and their families, quarantining for 14 days is a hardship, economically and in regard to their mental health. This is especially true in grades kindergarten through six, where students are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.” At Tuesday’s meeting of the Loudoun County School Board, Ziegler said the school division could eventually move to seven days of quarantine with proof of a negative test after day five if the data supports this shift.

    With the change announced Friday, students who are currently quarantined for 14 days may return on the 11th day if they have no symptoms and have not tested positive.

    Students who are fully vaccinated and have no COVID-19 symptoms will not need to quarantine. However, unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students who are identified as a close contact of a person infected with COVID-19 will need to quarantine for 10 days. LCPS will continue to work closely with the Loudoun County Health Department and follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Virginia Department of Health (VDH) as they are provided. LCPS will continue to review transmission data to consider additional guidance regarding reduced quarantine periods with negative COVID-19 tests. 

    For more information about who needs to quarantine or isolate, view the Quarantine Isolate Flow Chart.

    *Data as of September 16, 2021


     

    Update: August 12, 2021

    Last week, I sent you information about masking expectations that will be in place for students as they return to school on Thursday, August 26. You can view a short video that summarizes its key points.

    Today, the State health Commissioner issued an Order of Public Health Emergency with a statewide requirement to wear masks in K-12 Schools. The State Health Commissioner, pursuant to§§ 32.1-13 and 32.1-20 of the Code of Virginia, issued this Order finding that a public health emergency due to COVID-19 continues to exist, and requiring all individuals aged two and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools in order to inhibit spread of the virus, as recommended and described by the CDC.  

    Today, I also wanted to respond to many of your questions about specific details surrounding face-coverings in schools. 

    First, masks will be required for students who are waiting in line or participating in direct physical education instruction, but they will not be required when students are participating in physical education activity. Physical Education teachers will prioritize activities that allow for physical distancing when PE is held indoors.

     Secondly, students are permitted to remove masks for eating and drinking in our cafeterias.  They will, however, be expected to wear masks while entering and exiting the cafeteria, waiting in lines or socializing.

     We have had many questions about masks for meetings, visitors and staff in our administrative facilities. Face coverings are required in all LCPS facilities when shared in areas of the buildings, including but not limited to break rooms, kitchens, restrooms, hallways, stairwells, lobbies and meeting rooms. They are also required while in personal work spaces, except when in a room, office, or cubicle with walls 7’ or higher, with the door closed.

     All students, staff, and visitors are expected to comply with LCPS mask requirements, including those who are participating in non-LCPS activities conducted in school buildings. Examples include and are not limited to after-school childcare activities and community youth recreation events hosted during evenings/weekends as well as church, civic group or other community events or meetings.  

    Please know that we continue to monitor the ongoing changes in guidance from the State and the CDC and will be collecting data (student-to-student transmission, student-to-staff transmission, staff-to-staff transmission, quarantines, student absences and staff sick days) to report to the community and inform future decisions about mitigation measures. Additionally, we will reinstate our use of thermal cameras at schools where they are installed.  

  • Introduction

    UPDATE: August 2, 2021, Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) will require students and staff to wear masks for indoor activities at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

    School starts on Thursday, August 26.

    While this action conforms with Chapter 456 of the Code of Virginia (formerly Senate Bill 1303), which requires schools to open for in-person instruction this fall, maximizing the opportunity for students to continue to learn in a safe, consistent in-person learning environment is an LCPS priority for the 2021-2022 school year. Chapter 456 passed during a special session of the Virginia General Assembly on March 30, 2021 directing that Virginia’s school divisions open for in-person instruction and adhere to federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance related to COVID-19. 

    “We know students and families have been waiting for news on mask-wearing and other mitigation measures in LCPS schools this fall,” stated Dr. Scott A. Ziegler, superintendent. “We have been closely monitoring information from the CDC, the Virginia Department of Health, and our own county’s transmission rates to make the most informed decision possible. With the mandate of 456 (formerly SB1303) to maximize in-person learning and to follow CDC guidance it was important to have the most updated information possible to inform our return to school this fall.”  

    On July 27, the CDC recommended that everyone in K through 12 schools wear a mask indoors, including teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of their vaccination status. Read more about CDC guidance.

    “We realize that our desire for in-person learning is currently being challenged by rising community risk in Loudoun County and the potential impact of the Delta variant on students and our community and we will continue to monitor developing conditions and data,” Ziegler stated. “Mask wearing will minimize the need for quarantining, helping us keep students in the classroom.” 

    What this means for LCPS students and staff is:

    • All students and staff will be required to wear face coverings at the start of the 2021-22 school year, regardless of their vaccination status. This decision aligns with recommendations by the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Loudoun County Health Department. According to the Loudoun County Health Department, 239,955 Loudoun residents (58 percent) are vaccinated. During the past month, the number of new cases of COVID-19 have increased significantly in Loudoun County, Virginia and throughout the United States, fueled by the coronavirus Delta variant. The  Loudoun County Health Department strongly recommends that everyone aged 12 years and older get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Vaccines are free for everyone and widely available. Visit this site to schedule a vaccination.
    • Masks will be provided to LCPS students and staff who do not have them.
    • If a student with COVID-19 is within 3 to 6 feet of other students, the other students will not be considered “close contacts” if all the students are wearing masks. This will help reduce the need for quarantine and keep students in school.
    • Students will be required to wear masks on school buses. This follows LCPS’ practice for students participating in summer school and the CDC’s requirements for public transportation. 
    • Students will not be required to wear masks during recess, PE or other outdoor recreational/extra-curricular activities 
    • For indoor team practices and games, participants will wear masks while on the sidelines, but may remove them during play.  
    • Schools will be open at 100 percent capacity for five-day-a-week learning for all students on August 26.

    The safety and health of students and staff is a primary focus of Loudoun County Public Schools. Masking regulations could change if directives from local, state and national health agencies make it advisable.  

    Visit ReturnToSchool2021. 

Last Modified on March 2, 2022