Arlington Public Schools is not alone in defying Virginia’s new governor.
One of the first acts in office for Gov. Glenn Younkin (R) was an executive order intended to let parents decided whether their children wear masks to school. But APS — along with Alexandria and Fairfax County, among other public school systems — says that masks are still required, despite the order.
APS argues that state and federal law still requires masks in schools and on buses, and thus the governor’s order is, essentially, invalid. Youngkin hinted that a legal clash may follow.
“The fact that that tweet came out from Arlington County within minutes of my executive order, what that tells me is that they have not listened to parents yet,” Youngkin said, when asked about it by a WTOP reporter. “We will use every resource within the governor’s authority to explore what we can do and will do in order to make sure parents’ rights are protected.”
On Twitter and in interviews, Arlington’s Democratic state lawmakers backed the local school system.
Governor Youngkin talks about parental involvement in schools. The overwhelmingly majority of Arlington parents want masks worn in schools. Does parental involvement only matter if the Governor agrees?
— Barbara Favola (@BarbaraFavola) January 16, 2022
“No authority at all.” Delegate Patrick Hope of Arlington County responds to Governor Youngkin who said he may use state resources to try to force the county’s school system to comply with his order – which effectively removes school mask mandates. @WTOP @HopeforVirginia pic.twitter.com/Z6ZoFGQ9yp
— Nick Iannelli (@NickWTOP) January 16, 2022
Also issuing a statement of support for APS was a notable Arlington resident: White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
“Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong),” President Biden’s primary spokesperson said on Twitter. “Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.”
Legality aside, Youngkin’s executive order suggested that, in practicality, requiring masks in schools is ineffective and fails to substantially reduce virus transmission.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends use of masks, and has published studies showing more Covid cases among schools without universal masking policies. But some have questioned the science behind the CDC’s guidance.
At last check, there were nearly 1,000 confirmed Covid cases among students and staff in the seven days following their return to school from winter break and a week of snow days.
What do you think: should APS stand firm on its masking policies, or do you support Youngkin’s call to make masks optional at schools?
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