Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill yesterday (Wednesday) making masks optional in schools by March 1.
Fairfax County and other Northern Virginia school systems have continued to require students to wear masks, even after Youngkin issued an executive order that gave parents the choice whether their children wore a mask.
The school board, along with six others, sued the governor, challenging his power to prohibit local mandates. But Senate Bill 739 makes that suit moot, establishing the order as law. All jurisdictions that have mask mandates must make them optional by March 1.
The effort to make masks optional was led by Sen. Chap Petersen (34th District). Petersen said that in the final version of the bill, the governor can reimpose mandatory mitigation measures if necessary.
“COVID-19 has been a tough and stressful time, and our kids have been hit the hardest,” Petersen said in a statement. “We are in a different world than we were two years ago. The vaccine works and is widely available. Universal mask mandates, especially for children who are healthy and vaccinated, is an onerous and outdated measure that will now end on March 1st.”
Fairfax County Public Schools said in a statement that it was reviewing the legislation to determine “what this means for FCPS.” With the bill adding pressure, the school system announced a plan last week to make masks optional once COVID-19 transmission returns to a moderate level in the county.
When should masks become optional in schools — as soon as possible or when COVID-19 transmission levels are reduced?
Photo via Governor of Virginia/Facebook Live
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