Another Virginia School District Vows to Keep Masking Despite Governor's EO, But There's a Plan Fight Back

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Posted: Jan 20, 2022 6:30 PM
Another Virginia School District Vows to Keep Masking Despite Governor's EO, But There's a Plan Fight Back

Source: AP Photo/Denis Poroy

On Thursday, yet another Virginia school district decided to, at least for now, disregard Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R-VA) executive orders on lifting a mask mandate for school districts throughout the commonwealth. Such an order was part of his "Day One Promise" executive orders issued on Saturday, hours after he had taken office. The school district in question is Chesterfield County Public Schools, located close to Richmond, and is very much a swing district. 

Tina Ramirez, whom Townhall has featured before in articles about when she had announced a run in the 7th Congressional District, to challenge Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), is now instead running to be the state Senator for the 12th district, where Chesterfield is located. Ramirez made the decision once the maps had been redrawn. 

In a press release provided to Townhall, Ramirez called out the district for ignoring the governor's order and in doing so, denying parents a voice and lowering the standards in education.

"Just today, in Chesterfield County, where I live, it was announced that Chesterfield Schools will be at least temporarily disregarding Governor Youngkin’s executive orders while waiting for further guidance from the Virginia Department of Education. Unfortunately, we are wasting time debating something as simple as whether or not to allow parents to exercise their right to decide how best to protect their children, while we are watching dramatic drops in academic benchmarks across Virginia," Ramirez said.

"The more time that we spend focused on radical agendas, mandates, and social experiments in our schools, the less time we spend actually ensuring our children are receiving a quality education. We need to give parents options for their children, we need to respect their voices and rights as parents, and we need to make school about education again. This is why it is so meaningful to me that these leaders in education recognize my ability to get this done. Too many career politicians have been wasting time with theatrics while accomplishing nothing. I’m running for Senate to change that," she continued. 

Ramirez had also announced that she had been endorsed by Gerard Robinson, former Virginia Secretary of Education, and Dr. Ben Howerton, former Virginia education executive. "I am honored to be endorsed by these giants in the field of education," Ramirez's statement began. 

While the decision to continue requiring masking for students was announced on Thursday, Chesterfield had been gaining attention earlier in the week as well. 

The Chesterfield Education Association (Chesterfield EA) Twitter account has been sharing posts to do with "Blackout Monday" for next Monday, January 24, and also calling on people to wear red "to show solidarity with educators fighting for student health and safety," both to do with mask use.

The ChesterfieldEA has been reportedly blocking users, though.

Other school districts in question include Fairfax, Alexandria, and Arlington, all in bright blue Northern Virginia. There is some hope, though, for Chesterfield at least.

As Jakob Cordes and Alex Thorson of WRIC ABC 8 News reported on Thursday:

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County Public Schools will keep its policy of universal masking in place for the time being, but promised to revisit the policy once the state superintendent releases complete guidance on how to implement Governor Youngkin’s executive order.

While three of the board’s five members said they wanted to end the masking policy, board member Debbie Bailey (Dale District), said they simply couldn’t move forward without guidance from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). For example, members questioned how schools should proceed with contract tracing and quarantine guidelines when many kids are in buildings maskless.

Further, while Chesterfield went blue in 2020, it voted for Youngkin last November.

Gov. Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares, also a Republican, are not backing down on their efforts to let parents decide whether their children will wear masks to school. 

While recently appearing on "Fox News @ Night," Miyares reminded host Shannon Bream that the Virginia constitution empowers parents with having a fundamental right in their child's education and determining what's best. 

On what's to come next out of these fights over mask mandates, Miyares offered that "we already know the General Assembly is meeting, we know there's probably going to be a legislative fix as well. So any school board that thinks it's going to ignore the code of Virginia, well they're going to see me in court, I'll tell you that," he assured.

Miyares had also referred to the fight over parents deciding whether their children will go to school wearing masks as "a classic example of why, candidly, Governor Youngkin won, I won, and [Lieutenant Governor] Winsome Sears."