Northern Virginia schools react to Gov. Youngkin’s mask mandate order

Virginia's new Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order on his first day of office lifting the statewide mask mandate for K through 12 schools.  

Starting on Jan. 24th, parents "may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child's school or educational program." 

Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin intends to rescind school mask mandate

Gov. Youngkin's order is getting pushback from several school districts in Northern Virginia, where administrators have already said they will continue to require students and staff to wear masks 

Alexandria’s school system says they plan to follow the health and safety guidelines of the CDC and Alexandria Health Department. Both still recommend mask wearing. 

Fairfax County is reviewing the quote "operational implications" of the order and plans to require students and staff to wear masks. 

Prince William County is still thinking about what they plan to do. 

Glenn Youngkin sworn in as 74th Virginia governor

Arlington County Public Schools was the first to put out a statement that their mask mandate is unchanged saying, "Universal mask use has proven effective in keeping COVID-19 transmission rates low in our schools and ensuring schools remain safe and open." 

Prince William County is still reviewing the order before making a final decision.

Fox 5’s Sierra Fox spoke with Fairfax County High School student, Matthew Savage, who just tested positive for COVID-19. 

He thinks he got it during lunch when hundreds of teens are packed in a cafeteria without masks. 

"I think this new executive order is just reckless. Glenn Youngkin is playing politics with the health and safety of our students – students like me, my classmates – he’s putting us at risk of COVID infection and he’s putting our families at risk. It’s not just the students, but the teachers as well," said Savage.

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"I feel more comfortable – like it soothes my anxiety – when I see other people with masks on," said Sophie Finke, Woodbridge Resident.

Others are glad Governor Youngkin is doing what he promised and standing up for parents.

"It’s not a political move if he ran on it and told people what we was going to do and he did it," said Marni Deleon, a Northern Virginia Resident.

"I am not militantly pro or anti mask. However, I do view it as a matter of personal choice, so I was pleased with the order, and I am supportive of it," said Nathan Brinkman, an Arlington Parent.

When Fox 5’s Sierra Fox reached out to Governor Youngkin to see if he will allow an opt-out – his press secretary Macaulay Porter said,"The Governor will consider all options available and all tools at his disposal to ensure parents can make decisions about their children’s upbringing, education, and care."