Gov. lifts school mask mandate

Published 8:00 am Friday, January 21, 2022

Shortly after taking office on Saturday, Jan. 16, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed nine executive orders, one beginning lifting the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate in K-12 schools beginning Jan. 24.

“I believe children need to be in the classroom five days a week,” Youngkin said. “And I also believe we can, in fact, balance the needs of our children with the health and safety of our children. And I don’t believe that mandating masks in school is the right way.”

The governor’s order states that parents with children in public schools “may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child’s school.”

“A child whose parent has elected that he or she is not subject to a mask mandate should not be required to wear a mask under any policy implemented by a teacher, school, school district, the Department of Education, or any other state authority,” Youngkin said.

Following the executive order, many school districts across the state said they would be keeping its mask requirements in place.

As of Wednesday, the following school districts in the Commonwealth have decided they will be keeping mask requirements: Arlington, Montgomery, Fairfax, Loudon, Henrico, Richmond, Alexandria and Prince William.

Virginia law noted that each school board is required to offer in-person instruction that adheres “to the maximum extent practicable” to COVID-19 mitigation guidelines from the CDC.

The CDC currently recommends universal masking by anyone 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status.

On Tuesday, a group of Chesapeake parents filed suit against Gov. Youngkin seeking to have his order declared void and unenforceable because the Gov. does not have the power to use an Executive Order to overturn or override established state law.