Roanoke County parents show support for mask mandate as school board avoids vote

Dozens of parents, students and teachers voiced their opinion on masking during Tuesday night’s school board meeting

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – After nearly two hours of public comment at Roanoke County’s School Board meeting Tuesday, the board did not vote on any changes to its mask mandate.

Before the meeting began, parents were outside the school board building with signs in hand, protesting in support of keeping the mask mandate.

“We’re out here in the hopes — perhaps, vain hope — of convincing the school board to do the right thing and keep the mask mandate in place,” said one parent, Sam Chafin.

Parents, teachers and students packed into the meeting Tuesday night– even filling up two overflow rooms down the hall. Along with a long list of people for public comment.

“We are only asking the school board to make masks optional, not to take them away. Feel free to wear your masks if that’s what makes you comfortable,” said Roanoke County student, Eva Brown.

“Now is not the time to make a decision to remove these preventative measures as reckless, self-serving and leaving blood on your hands for a what-if scenario should you be willing to overlook it,” said parent, Jen Garrett.

The protest comes after the school board voted to rescind the mask mandate earlier this month, but two days later reversed the decision. What’s new this week, an executive order from Governor Glenn Youngkin making masks optional in schools.

“We sat here in August and heard, ‘We must follow the governor’s requests and mandates and orders.’ So now in January shouldn’t we be doing the same thing,” said another parent, Ashley Moore.

The board said there would be no vote on the measure as it wanted to see recommendations from the State Superintendent of Education before making a decision.

“There will be no vote tonight and no policy changes made this evening,” said school board chairman, David Linden.

The next scheduled school board meeting is Thursday, Jan. 27.

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