CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia’s school boards are having to reconsider their school mask policies since Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools was announced. The change took effect Monday but many districts are choosing to defy it.
On Tuesday, the Chesterfield School Board took up the issue for the second time in a week after getting new guidance from the Virginia Department of Education. The board voted to go along with Youngkin’s mandate and remove their mask requirement.
Meanwhile, several other school districts have decided to stick with their mask mandates. The state stands split.
“He will attend on Monday without his mask on,” a Chesterfield parent told 8News at a meeting last week.
That parent is one of many heated parents on both sides who are pleading with school districts to either follow the order or defy it. Last night in Hanover, the school board ultimately joined other central VA districts like Powhatan, Prince George, and Spotsylvania, voting to side with Youngkin.
“We put them [masks] on because they’re the one tool in our tool box of mitigation measures,” a parent told the board. “Our children are being trained that living life behind a mask is normal,” another parent said, in opposition to keeping the mandate.
Other districts like Henrico, Colonial Heights and Petersburg said they are holding onto their mandates for now. Meanwhile, Richmond and Prince William joined five other Virginia school districts taking it a step further – planning pro-mask lawsuits.
Virginia’s own laws seemingly contradict each other. Youngkin pointed to a 2013 law empowering parental choice, while on the flipside, a 2021 COVID-19 related law says schools have to follow CDC guidelines, including regarding masks.
“We’re going to defend the governors executive orders in court. We’re going to say that this is parental empowerment,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares on Monday. The new attorney general then said he won’t be enforcing Governor Youngkin’s ban on mask mandates while the lawsuits play out.