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Newest emergency directive mandates masks in Washoe schools

By Jeri Chadwell

Gov. Steve Sisolak signed Emergency Directive 048 on Wednesday afternoon providing guidance on face coverings in schools as COVID-19 trends in the state have been trending sharply upward.

Masking while indoors, regardless of vaccination status, was reinstituted under directives 045 and 047 last Friday for 12 of Nevada’s 17 counties experiencing significant spread of the virus. As of Today, Washoe, Clark, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Lincoln, Lyon and Nye counties remain flagged under those directives, as does Carson City.

The directive gives guidance related to mask use in K-12 schools in the state. It mandates that all school staff and students, from kindergarten through 12th grade, must wear face coverings while inside school buildings. A person’s vaccination status does not matter.

A release from the governor’s office states that as variants of concern continue to spread, “including the Delta variant … additional mitigation measures are needed to protect students, staff and school visitors.”

Face coverings will also be required while on school buses, for both drivers and riders. This falls in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC’s order applies to all public transportation vehicles, including school buses. Individual schools’ mask policies, which may vary, do not affect this part of the order.

Athletes and other students, staff and volunteers who are not fully vaccinated and also travel for school-related events outside of the county will also be subject to regular, weekly COVID-19 testing.

Nevada Health Response released accompanying guidance for the directive that summarizes requirements and recommendations for masking and testing within K-12 schools.

The CDC last week recommended that all teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks inside school buildings to prevent transmission of the virus. 

The Emergency Directive and guidance were developed in partnership with the Nevada Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and local school leaders across the State:

  • In counties with a population of 100,000 or greater, all kindergarten through 12th grade students in county school district, charter school and private school settings (regardless of whether they would be exempt from the face covering requirement based on their age) MUST wear face coverings while inside school buildings regardless of vaccination status unless granted an exemption. Exemptions for masking are outlined in Directive 048 and accompanying guidance. This applies to Clark County and Washoe County.
  • In counties with a population less than 100,000, each county school district, charter school, and private school shall adopt a face covering policy that addresses whether, or under what circumstances, face coverings will be required for students while in school buildings or on school campuses. Any policy must not conflict with the provisions of the Emergency Directive or with any face covering requirements imposed by county governments or local health authorities. This applies to the remaining 15 counties.
  • Irrespective of any policy adopted by a county school district, charter school, or private school, if a school-wide outbreak of COVID-19 is identified by the applicable local health authority in any school, a universal face covering policy SHALL be implemented immediately for ALL students in the school building where the outbreak occurred until the local health authority determines that the outbreak is closed.

More details on requirements and recommendations for K-12 school settings can be found in the guidance online and in additional guidance developed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. 

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