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Message from Dr. Nicely about Gov. Northam's revised mask mandate and gathering limitations

Nov. 13, 2020


Good evening, parents and students:


I hope this message finds you well. I remain very proud of all of the hard work and resilience demonstrated by our students, teachers, and staff. Despite the challenges, most students are learning and moving forward, and our teachers, counselors, and administrators are reaching out to support those students who may still struggle. I also want to thank you, as parents, who, like most parents across the nation, have stepped in to help us help your children; not only with academics, but with organization and coping skills. Thank you.

Friday afternoon, the governor announced changes to previous executive orders regarding the use of face masks and the size of public gatherings. Since this order goes into effect statewide beginning Sunday evening, we wanted to let you know how these changes will affect schools as we resume on Monday.

First, the governor’s order regarding the use of face masks now extends to schools and classrooms. Beginning Monday, face masks will be required in classrooms, even with required 6-feet distancing. Our students have been doing really well complying with the face mask requirements already in place, and we appreciate their cooperation with this additional statewide requirement to wear face masks at all times while at school.

Secondly, the restriction on the size of public gatherings has been lowered from 250 to 25 beginning Monday. This order does not apply to education settings such as classrooms and buses, but does apply to other events held at schools such as spectators at athletic competitions. As you may have read in the media last week, the health department has issued clear public health recommendations regarding athletic competitions for our region. In compliance with these recommendations, we are working with localities in our region to develop joint criteria by which games may be played. Competition criteria will be directly linked to public health metrics from the Virginia Department of Health and the CDC being in the moderate range or lower for weekly seven-day averages in our region. As you are probably aware, these metrics currently put our region in the high and highest ranges and are trending upwards in the wrong direction.

We are hopeful that a renewed and continued community effort to practice physical distancing and wear face masks will lower transmission data for our area, lower exposures and risk of transmission at school, and help keep our schools open and safe for our students and staff. Our students need to be in school, even with the restrictions in place, and we thank you and everyone in the community for helping us make it happen.

Have a good evening and weekend.



Dr. Ken Nicely


Roanoke County Public Schools