New Virginia governor signs executive order to end mask mandate in schools

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed nine new executive orders.

January 17, 2022, 1:57 PM

Newly inaugurated Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, signed several executive orders over the weekend, including one removing masking requirements in schools across the state. However, a growing number of school districts have said that their masking policies will remain in place.

“There is no greater priority than the health and welfare of Virginia’s children. Under Virginia law, parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children,” Youngkin's second executive order read.

PHOTO: Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during an inauguration ceremony, on Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks during an inauguration ceremony, on Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va.
Julio Cortez/AP

White House press secretary Jen Psaki, from her personal Twitter account, weighed in on the issue as a parent in Arlington County, Virginia. Psaki applauded the county where her kids go to school for keeping the mask requirement in place and swiped at the new Republican governor’s order.

"Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong). Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant," Psaki wrote.

Since Youngkin signed the order Saturday, at least three school districts in Northern Virginia have reminded families that masking policies remain in place, including Arlington Public Schools, Alexandria City Public Schools and Fairfax County Public Schools.

“As we return to school after the holiday weekend, we want to let you know that FCPS will continue universal masking for all students and staff,” FCPS superintendent Scott Brabrand said in a statement Sunday.

PHOTO: Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs executive orders in the Governors conference room at the Capitol on Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va.
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signs executive orders in the Governors conference room at the Capitol on Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va.
Steve Helber/AP

The statement also said that FCPS is currently reviewing Youngkin’s executive order and will remain aligned with CDC guidelines for now.

Along with the executive order on masks, Youngkin also signed an executive order ending the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for state employees, one banning Critical Race Theory in public education and another that terminated the Virginia Parole Board, among others, on the same day.

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