Masking an option at LCPS

Published 8:00 am Thursday, January 27, 2022

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Referred to as “Mask off Monday,” across the Commonwealth, students headed back to the classroom on Monday, Jan. 24, with an option as to whether to wear a mask in class or not.

One of his first orders as newly elected Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin lifting the statewide COVID-19 mask mandate in K-12 schools.

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.”

“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.”

Following the executive order on Saturday, Jan. 15, many school districts across the state said they would be keeping its mask requirements in place, while others said they needed more time to weigh the issue.

On Friday, Jan. 21, Lunenburg County Public Schools (LCPS) Superintendent Charles Berkley Jr. announced that the school division would follow the Gov.’s executive order and give parents the right to choose but only to a certain extent.

“It is your choice as to whether your child will wear a mask in the school building; however, if your child utilizes any kind of LCPS transportation (bus or car), they must wear a mask while being transported,” Berkeley said in his announcement.

This decision by LCPS comes just days after the division shut down schools and returned to remote learning due to surging COVID-19 cases among staff and students.

On Monday, Jan. 24, students were set to return to in-person instruction, but icy road conditions delayed the return until Tuesday, Jan. 25.

In a Monday evening Facebook post, LCPS wrote that parents wishing to have their child opt out of wearing a mask should send a note to the child’s school.

Despite the lifting of the mask mandate, several school districts across the Commonwealth have vowed to uphold the mandate, with some parents and school districts going as far as filing lawsuits.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18, just three days after Gov. Youngkin’s order, a group of Chesapeake parents filed suit against the Gov. 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.

Since then, Alexandria, Arlington, Richmond, Falls Church, Fairfax, and Prince William districts have filed suits.