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Fact Checking: VA Governor's executive order on masks in schools

Parents will have the right to opt out starting Jan. 24.

RICHMOND, Va. — WUSA9 is fact-checking Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to opt-out of mask mandates in schools.

THE QUESTION:

Are the claims made by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in his executive order regarding universal masking in schools accurate?

THE SOURCES:


Governor’s executive order
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The World Health Organization

THE ANSWER:


Let's take the governor's first claim in the four-page executive order: the mandate from the Virginia Health Commissioner is "out of date" because it refers to Delta, not the less severe Omicron variant, and more people are now vaccinated.

Here's what we found: According to the Aug. 12 order, the state Health Commissioner justifies a mask mandate in schools because of the delta variant, low community vaccination rates, and the fact that children under 12 were not eligible at the time.

So that claim is true.

The governor's second claim: "Wearing masks for prolonged periods of time, such as for an entire school day, decreases their effectiveness."

We checked the World Health Organization's 2020 outline on mask-wearing and the CDC's updated 2021 guidance and could not find any evidence of that.

That claim is false.

The third claim the governor made is when he said that the CDC recommends but “found no statistically significant link between masking and reducing transmission."

The CDC released a study back in September 2021 that looked at the first two weeks of the school year nationwide. According to its analysis, school systems without a mask mandate had significantly higher COVID outbreaks.

That claim is false.

Finally claim number four: "The masks worn by children are often ineffective because they are made from cloth material, and they are often not clean."

While the WHO said dirty cloth masks can carry bacteria and should be washed, the agency and CDC now recommend doubling up or wearing masks that contain at least two layers of protection like KN95s.

We'll leave that claim as an unknown.

Still, the CDC advises, "consistent and correct mask use is a critical strategy for preventing the transmission."

RELATED: Glenn Youngkin inaugurated as Virginia's 74th governor

RELATED: Youngkin signs 11 executive actions including launching investigation into Loudoun County Public Schools


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