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Stafford County Public Schools board votes to remove masks for students, staff

The vote to rescind the school mask policy was greeted by applause from some parents at the meeting.

STAFFORD, Va. — Masks are no longer mandatory for students, staff and visitors at Stafford County Public Schools in Virginia. 

The Stafford County School Board voted 5-2 in favor of rescinding the universal mask mandate for students, staff and visitors. The decision was met with cheers and applause by parents who attended the emergency meeting. Some were seen holding signs rejecting masks.

"To the legal extent possible, the board has rescinded the mask mandate and allowed for an optional use of masks. We still recommend masks ... but that's what the board has decided," Superintendent Thomas Taylor said.

The change officially takes effect on February 22. 

Alyssa Halstead, a Stafford County School Board member, said the vote sends a strong message.

"I think what we want our parents in Stafford County, and across Virginia to know is that school boards are waking up, and we're listening," she said.

RELATED: Fairfax County Public Schools announce what it will take to roll back masks, other COVID safety measures

The vote comes a day after the Virginia Senate passed SB739, in which a parent "may elect for such child to not wear a mask while on school property." 

The bill will head to the Republican-controlled House of Delegates, where it is expected to pass. Gov. Glenn Youngkin said he will sign the bill. He could use the option to put an emergency clause on the bill, which would make it effective immediately, possibly by the end of the month.

RELATED: Virginia Senate passes bill to make masks optional in schools

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