Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin unveils updated mask guidelines for schools

New Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin has officially unveiled updated mask guidelines for parents, educators, and schools. 

The guidelines go along with the governor's Executive Order 2, which creates a parental opt-out from mask mandates at both public and private schools in the Commonwealth.  

The updated guidelines were developed by the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Education. 

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In a press release issued Friday, Governor Youngkin once again affirmed that his decision to rescind the mask mandate is about giving parents the choice to decide what's best for their child. 

"I have said all along that we are going to stand up for parents. Executive Order 2 is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents. I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in the favor of parents," Youngkin said. "In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal, and trust the legal process."
The Governor's office said that the updated mask guidance is redesigned around Governor Youngkin’s key principles of parental rights, keeping kids in the classroom five days a week, and keeping kids safe and healthy. 

READ MORE: Virginia Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin talks education, COVID-19

Masking is listed as the last preventative action in the Interim COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines for Schools while getting vaccinated is included as the first. 

The Virginia Department of Health and Department of Education states that there are "benefits and costs to mask wearing in the school environment. The benefits may include reduced transmission of the virus, but with limitations."

"During the Omicron outbreak, regions with restrictive masking policies and practices have shown similar rates of transmission as regions with less restrictive mask policies. There is presently a lack of consensus among health experts regarding the costs and benefits of mask-wearing for children in school," the guidance reads. 

Governor Youngkin's mask policy officially goes into effect on Monday, January 24th.