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Parents prepare to send students to school ahead of Monday’s masking requirement change

Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 9:05 AM EST
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HENRICO, Va. (WWBT) - Parents and students across Virginia are gearing up for school on Monday when Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order on masking is set to start.

Some parents say they will still send their students without a mask despite what their school division says.

The executive order allows parents to decide if their child wears a mask or not, instead of the school division’s deciding for them.

Many school divisions like Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield have decided to keep their mask mandates in place for now but some parents say they intend to follow the governor’s executive order.

“We do not intend to go with a mask,” Rachael Kulak, a Henrico parent said. “The destruction that they’re doing to our children’s psychology and physically it’s just not worth it at this point. They need to let it go and just let the parents step in and make those calls.”

Governor Youngkin’s administration sent out new guidance on Friday, for teachers and parents on best practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The new guidelines emphasize mitigation measures instead of masking that focus on vaccinations, social distancing, and testing to return.

“I have said all along that we are going to stand up for parents. Executive Order 2 is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents. I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in the favor of parents, reaffirming the parental rights clearly laid out in the Virginia code § 1-240.1. In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal, and trust the legal process,” said Governor Youngkin in a press release.

It’s a conversation Kulak says she has already had with her student’s principal.

“It keeps changing, at first he said just plexiglass and then he said that they would be calling me and that I should hang on and not send him in without a mask,” Kulak said. “We plan to go without a mask as per our rights.”

Kulak says she feels that masks should not be taken out of schools completely but that each family should be able to decide what’s best for them.

On the flip side, Friday the Virginia Education Association sent out a statement, opposing Governor Youngkin’s executive order and fully supporting the lawsuit filed by several Chesapeake parents in the Virginia Supreme Court.

The lawsuit is something Attorney General Jason Miyares says he’s ready to fight in court.

“This does not take away anyone’s right to wear a mask to school. You want your child to wear a mask at school, that’s great. But respect the fact that there may be people who think differently than you,” Miyares said.

The state supreme court could take up the case as early as this coming week.

On Monday the Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield Education Associations are set to have a news conference to ask school systems for standards on how to safely operate schools.

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