Rockingham County school board votes 3-2 to keep masks in schools for now

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 11:23 PM EST
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - The Rockingham County school board made its decision on whether students will have to wear masks in the classroom, even after Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order 2 went into effect today, giving parents the choice whether or not students wear masks.

After a 3-2 vote, Rockingham County students will still need to mask up for now.

The school board members heard a lengthy public comment period from dozens of students, parents, and teachers in the community. Some mentioned the importance of masks in mitigating COVID-19 at school, while others pointed out the need to prioritize students’ mental health and follow the governor’s order.

While the motion made by the board was to continue wearing masks, the school board will revisit the topic at its Feb. 28 meeting, and take into account community spread at that time and legal determinations.

“Whatever the courts decide, we will abide by, but what we have right now is that if we choose to accept the governor’s executive order, we are in violation of SB1303. If we accept SB1303, we’re in violation of the governor’s order,” Chair Dan Breeden, who voted to keep the mask mandate, said.

“We as a community together must conquer this virus and keep our schools open, so how do we do it? we have to look at the children, all of the staff, all of the people in our schools,” board member Dr. Charlette McQuilkin, who voted to keep the mask mandate, said.

After the vote and before the meeting even adjourned, several parents walked onto the stage handing in mask opt-out forms for their kids to the superintendent.

“I believe a majority of our community does not want to mask their children or at least wants that option as parents,” board member Matt Cross, who voted to end the mask mandate, said.

During his comments, Cross asked parents to have patience with the principals and leaders at their children’s schools as they are just enforcing the decision made by the board.

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