Ongoing debate over masking in Va. schools brings mixed messaging for parents, students

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin caused a stir when he signed an executive order lifting the mask mandate at schools with the order’s fate landing in the courts. But there’s been some mixed messaging on what parents and their kids should do in the meantime as the order is in legal limbo.

Under Youngkin’s administration, the Virginia Department of Health and the Virginia Department of Education put out a joint statement pushing for personal responsibility instead of mask mandates for everyone.

“Foundational prevention strategies in schools, such as testing and improving ventilation, combined with common-sense actions of personal responsibility, such as staying home when sick, getting vaccinated, and handwashing, can help reduce transmission in schools,” the statement reads.

The guidance also mentioned that children are at a low-risk for hospitalization and death.

“While children can be infected with COVID-19, experience illness, and spread the virus to others, cases in healthy children are usually mild with a low risk of developing severe illness.”

However, the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics released a statement, saying it strongly recommends children continue to mask-up in schools while rates of COVID-19 remain high — regardless of vaccination status.

“Any successful comprehensive plan to protect children against the Omicron variant and other future variants of COVID-19 includes being up to date on COVID-19 vaccination and consistent wearing of face masks during times of infection surge,” the statement read.

The academy maintained that wearing masks will help to keep schools open.

“In addition to protecting a child, face mask use significantly reduces the spread of SAR-CoV-2 and other respiratory infections, thus keeping schools operational and ensuring children do not miss in person school. ”

Youngkin has told parents to trust the legal process and to listen to their principal while they wait. He said he’s confident the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in his favor.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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