Gov. lifts school mask mandate

Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

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Shortly after taking office on Saturday, Jan. 16, Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed nine executive orders, one 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’s said.

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

Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) currently requires all staff and students to wear masks in school buildings and on buses.

On Monday, Jan. 17, LCPS Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. said no decision had been made as to whether they would still require masks despite the order.

According to Berkley, the school board would need to make that decision.

With the order, school districts will be able to keep mask recommendations in place, but parents can choose not to follow them.

LCPS has already chosen not to follow CDC guidelines of reducing quarantine times for staff and students to five days, whether the school district made the decision to keep the quarantine times at ten days.

As of Monday, 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.