Virginia health leaders concerned about Gov. Youngkin’s move to lift school mask mandates

Some school districts plan to keep mask mandate in place

Health leaders are concerned about Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order as school COVID-19 cases rise.

ROANOKE, Va. – It’s a new weekly update, but the same headline: The Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts are reporting record numbers of cases of COVID-19.

“We know that across the country there are some states that are starting to trend down. We know that within Virginia there are some localities that are starting to trend down. Southwest has not. Southwest is still in that upward trajectory,” said RCAHD Director Dr. Cynthia Morrow.

Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order that ends mask mandates in schools, a decision that has been received with mixed reactions from the local health departments.

“I know that there’s controversy about the impact of masks, from my perspective, the evidence to support masks is strong,” added Morrow.

“There’s pretty common knowledge that if you look at the states that have mask mandates and states that don’t have mask mandates and if you look at the data, the data doesn’t differ significantly,” said New River Health District Director Dr. Noelle Bissell.

The Virginia Department of Health still encourages parents to follow CDC guidelines which recommend all students ages two years and older, as well as staff, teachers and visitors of K-12 schools to wear masks while indoors.

“I certainly encourage where we have a lot of a lot of commingling of different families in close contact that people continue to wear masks indoors and I continue to make that recommendation,” said Morrow.

Despite the executive order, many school districts in the Commonwealth are keeping their mask mandates in place.

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