WINCHESTER — Frederick County Public Schools, which is upholding its mask requirement for students and staff, had “no major disruptions” when students returned to classes on Tuesday.

FCPS canceled classes on Monday due to inclement weather. That was the day Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order went into effect making masks optional for K-12 students amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Overall, we had a good day today,” said Steve Edwards, FCPS director of policy and communications. “Although there were some students who chose not to comply with the mask requirement, those situations were addressed and there were no major disruptions to the school day. We are following the same process now that we did at the start of the school year in addressing students who do not comply with the current mask requirement.”

Edwards outlined the process in his email. Students who choose not to comply with the mask requirement meet with a counselor and/or administrator. If the student chooses not to wear a mask, the administrator contacts the student’s parents to make them aware of the requirement. If the parent refuses to have their student comply with the requirement, they are asked to pick their student up at school. If the parent is unable or refuses to pick up their student, the student is placed in an area of the school where they can remain without wearing a mask, but physically distanced from other students. Edwards says these students are being provided classwork by their teacher(s) to complete.

School administrators also are reminding parents of the division’s process for students who wish to seek an exception to the mask requirement.

Last week, the School Board voted 4-3 to continue its requirement that all students and staff wear face masks inside school buildings. The vote followed Youngkin’s executive order that parents — not school officials — should decide if their children should wear face masks.

Throughout the state, school divisions are wrestling with whether to follow Youngkin’s order, as it conflicts with a state law requiring Virginia schools to follow Centers for Disease Control guidelines to the “maximum extent possible” regarding COVID protocols. The CDC calls for wearing face masks in schools at this time.

FCPS’s decision to continue to require masks has drawn both praise and outrage from parents. During last week’s Frederick County School Board meeting, opponents of the mask requirement booed and threatened legal action. Several audience members also said they would send their children to school without masks, regardless of the board’s decision. Some parents protested outside the school division’s administration building on Sunday.

In anticipation of potential protests, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday urged citizens to “conduct themselves properly” amid the newest mask uproar while awaiting the Virginia Supreme Court’s ruling on Youngkin’s executive order. Youngkin has told parents to “listen to their principal, and trust the legal process.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Frederick County Sheriff Lenny Millholland said his deputies had “no issues” at any of the county’s schools.

“So far today and yesterday, there have been no issues whatsoever,” Millholland said. “At the end of the day, I’m hoping cooler heads prevail, and they wait and see what happens with the governor and the supreme court, and we can all go back to normal.”

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