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Roanoke County to remove student mask mandate, if Youngkin cancels public health order

The school board voted parents can decide whether their students can be masked

Coronavirus and the Classroom

ROANOKE CO., Va. – Soon in Roanoke County, the decision on whether students wear a mask or not could be left up to parents — but that all depends on what Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin does once he’s sworn into office.

At the end of a more than three-hour work session Tuesday night, Cheryl Facciani, who represents the Windsor Hills District made a motion about removing the mask mandate for students if changes are made at the state level when Youngkin.

“We have passionate people on both sides of the aisle. We have parents that want to mask their children and those that don’t. I support each one of the parents that want to mask and those that don’t,” she said while setting up the motion.

“Upon Governor-elect Youngkin’s administration’s canceling of the current VDH public health order, Roanoke County Public Schools will immediately become mask optional and return to pre-covid medical policies, leaving medical decisions such as testing, quarantining, contact tracing between the doctor and their student patient or the student’s parents and guardians,” said Facciani.

Some school board members wanted to wait until the next meeting on Jan. 18 to make the decision, saying they wanted input from attorneys and citizens so the decision could be transparent.

“I’m going to vote no today but I’ll vote yes Tuesday the 18th. That’s just where I’m at. We’re that close to the finish line, let’s cross it,” said Tim Greenway, who represents the Vinton District.

The school board voted parents can decide whether their students wear a mask if the governor makes changes when he gets sworn in later this month.

The motion passed three to two, with the new school board chairman, David Linden, having the deciding vote. Greenway and Mike Wray both voted against the motion.

In August, Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration issued a universal mask mandate for K-12 schools and announced that any Virginia schools not following CDC masking guidance could face legal action.

Federal policy means teachers and staff will still have to wear masks and students will have to wear masks on buses.

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