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Forward Virginia: Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions

Mask Mandate: All Virginians aged five and over should wear a mask over their nose and mouth in accordance with CDC guidance and Executive Order 79.

Continued Mask Mandate

Executive Order 79 links Virginia’s mask requirement to the most recent CDC guidance with stricter requirements for K-12 schools. Therefore, all Virginians aged five and over should wear a mask over their nose and mouth in accordance with the CDC guidance and Executive Order 79.

The CDC guidance states that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in most settings. Settings where vaccinated people must still wear masks under the current guidance include planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation, transportation hubs such as airports and stations, and medical and congregate settings. For mask requirements in healthcare settings, please see the CDC guidance for health care settings here.

Employees must wear masks in accordance with the Department of Labor and Industry’s Permanent Standards while at work. However, employers who are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act or other comparable federal laws must continue to follow mandates that require reasonable accommodations for employees when necessary.

Students, teachers, staff, and visitors at public and private K-12 schools must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while indoors on school property. The exceptions in Executive Order 79 may still be utilized in schools.

Yes. The mask guidance in Executive Order 79 is a floor, not a ceiling. Therefore, any private entity may adopt a mask policy that is more stringent than the Executive Order, so long as the entity’s policy does not violate state or federal law. An entity, however, may not adopt a policy that is less stringent than Executive Order 79.


Executive Order 79’s masking requirement applies to all Commonwealth agencies and institutions of higher education. Therefore, all agencies and institutions of higher education are expected to follow CDC guidance in enforcing the requirement to wear masks.



School policy regarding masks remains unchanged. This is consistent with CDC guidance which states that schools should continue with all current mitigation strategies through the end of the school year despite updated guidance for fully vaccinated people.

While outside on school property, students, teachers, staff, and visitors may remove their masks if fully vaccinated. If individuals are not fully vaccinated they must wear a mask unless they can maintain at least six feet of distance. While inside on school property, students, teachers, staff, and visitors must wear a mask regardless of vaccination status.

Executive Order 79 does not impact business operations.  Accordingly, the Order does not affect the DOLI Permanent Standards, which govern the workplace. The DOLI Permanent standards are linked here. Although no longer mandatory, here is a link to the best practices for all business sectors.

People with immunocompromising conditions, including those taking immunosuppressive medications (for instance drugs, such as mycophenolate and rituximab, to suppress rejection of transplanted organs or to treat rheumatologic conditions), should discuss the need for personal protective measures with their healthcare provider after vaccination.

No, the intent of the K-12 school mask requirement in Executive Order 79 is to ensure that, while school is in session, masking continues in school settings, regardless of vaccination status, until more students aged 12 and older are fully vaccinated and until younger students become eligible for vaccination. Faculty, staff, and visitors, even if fully vaccinated, were included in the mask mandate in order to achieve better mask adherence by setting a good example to students who are not yet vaccinated. Additionally, CDC still recommends universal masking, regardless of vaccination status, in the K-12 setting.  

When school is not in session (or anytime students are not attending programs in the school building), individuals should follow masking recommendations in accordance with CDC Guidance, which allows for fully vaccinated individuals to participate in most activities without masking or distancing. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to mask and distance in order to protect themselves and the people around them. 

If a school is no longer in session and no student programs are being offered in a K-12 school, camps may follow CDC Guidance for Operating Youth Camps, which allows for fully vaccinated staff and campers to participate without masking and distancing. If levels of community transmission are substantial or high, universal masking indoors should be considered for the day camp setting, regardless of vaccination status. At overnight camps taking place at K-12 schools, camps should follow CDC guidance for overnight camps, which recommends masking for campers who are not fully vaccinated while those campers are in settings outside their cohort. 

If a camp is held on school property while K-12 faculty and staff are present on-site, those K-12 faculty and staff may follow masking recommendations in accordance with CDC Guidance, which allows for fully vaccinated individuals to participate in most activities without masking or distancing. Individuals who are not yet fully vaccinated should continue to mask and distance in order to protect themselves and the people around them. 

CDC and VDH currently recommend children aged 2-4 wear a mask in schools, but it is not required. The school mask mandate outlined in Executive Order 79 applies to individuals aged 5 and older. Parents and caregivers should use their best judgement when placing a mask on a child aged 2-4. Masks should not be worn by children under age 2.

No, masks should be removed for nap time. The mask exceptions in Executive Order 79 may be utilized in schools. “Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance” is exempt from the mask requirement.  

Additionally, CDC Guidance clarifies that child care providers should remove masks “before sleeping, napping, [and] when they may fall asleep (such as in a car seat or stroller)”.  Sleeping children may be unable to remove their mask if their breathing is obstructed, and children should not wear masks during nap time.  


CDC guidance states that a person is fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the second dose of a 2-dose vaccine (Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna) or two weeks after receiving a single-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson). There is currently no post-vaccination time limit on being fully vaccinated.

The Emergency Vendor List includes vendors used by the Va. Dept. of Emergency Management (VDEM) and Va. Dept. of General Services – Division of Purchases & Supply (DPS) during a 'state of public emergency.' The list may be utilized to quickly obtain supplies and services to provide assistance to those in need. 

This list can be found here.

The following sources provide additional workplace guidance for operations that remain open:

Recreational Sports

Participants and organizers of recreational sports are highly encouraged to consult the Virginia Department of Health’s “Considerations for Recreational Sports” webpage, which can be found here, in order to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the virus.

Workplace Protections

No. Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees are encouraged to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

Implementation and Enforcement

Executive Order 79 goes into effect on Friday, May 28, 2021, and will remain in effect until amended or rescinded.

The Governor, in consultation with State Health Commissioner Oliver, may adjust this Order or issue new orders as needed, given the quickly-changing public health situation. The Governor is keeping all options on the table, and should the health data demand fewer or more restrictions, he will put those into effect when necessary.

Executive Order 79 will be enforced by the Virginia Department of Health.