Both local school superintendents announced their systems' mask policies in statements released Tuesday evening, leading into Wednesday's scheduled return to school from their winter break.

The strictest policy fell to Handley High School, whose students, faculty and staff will return to classes under a mask mandate as announced by superintendent Greg Foster Tuesday.

Both school districts sent out a call late last week to parents and guardians to report cases of Covid-19 among students during the break. Those reports placed Handley High School above the system's 3 percent threshold for instituting a mask mandate.

Neither Handley Middle School, Knight-Enloe Elementary School, nor any of the county schools were placed under a system-directed mandate, but all of those schools were strongly encouraged to have students, faculty and staff mask up as they return to class.

"This is not a mask mandate, but it is a strong recommendation, which may be reconsidered if the need arises," said Randolph County Schools Superintendent John Jacobs.

That statement applies to all schools under the county school system's purview.

Foster made a similar comment in his announcement regarding the Roanoke City Schools system, stating, "We will continue to evaluate our numbers on a daily basis and make decisions based on that data."

The omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus has led to a recent surge in cases throughout the state and nationwide.

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