VIRGINIA, USA — Three more Virginia school districts made decisions as to whether they would follow Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order on masks Thursday night.
On Saturday, Youngkin signed an executive order that says mask-wearing can now be deemed optional in Virginia schools.
Since then, schools all across Northern Virginia have come to different conclusions on whether they will obey the governor’s order.
The Fauquier County school board voted Thursday to comply with the order amongst a crowd of parents who were mainly against mask mandate.
Fauquier joins Spotsylvania and Culpeper counties as some of the only Virginia school districts in the D.C. region that will follow Youngkin’s executive order.
The Stafford County school board decided to keep its universal mask mandate in place despite Youngkin’s order on Thursday.
Some members of the Stafford board cited state law, Senate Bill 1303, which requires in-person instruction be made available to all Virginia students, as their reason for doing so.
“If the legislature makes changes to this law, prior to August 1, we will be back here,” said Stafford Board Chair Patricia Healy.
Senate Bill 1303 has become a point of controversy for lawmakers and educators across the Commonwealth. The sponsor of that bipartisan legislation, Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, R – Henrico, recently said she disagrees with how many school boards are interpreting the law.
“Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order does not ban masks; it gives parents options,” she said. “Just like SB1303 does not mandate masks; it gives school boards a roadmap to keep schools open.”
The Falls Church City Public Schools board did something different than its counterparts Thursday night.
Its school board voted to keep its mask requirement in place, but with a caveat. The board also decided to create a mask wearing opt-out policy for families that will start either February 14 or when the Virginia Department of Health designates Falls Church City’s level of community transmission of COVID-19 in the moderate range for a seven-consecutive-day period as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, whichever is first.
Both the Commonwealth’s and various school systems’ positions on mask wearing will likely be the topic of litigation later this year.
Attorney General Miyares has moved, on Thursday, to dismiss a petition from parents to block Governor Youngkin’s executive order in the Virginia Supreme Court.
“Tonight, we asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to protect the fundamental rights of parents to direct the upbringing, care, and education of their children,” he said. “Governor Youngkin had every power to issue the executive order and with our filing, we again affirm that parents matter.”