By Gov. Glenn Youngkin
In November’s election, Virginians came together to declare that too many local leaders were failing a generation of schoolchildren. Students deprived of a quality education, teachers who are underpaid and overworked, and parents deserving a voice in their children’s schooling fueled a movement to end the government’s one-size-fits-all approach.
The will of Virginians was clear: Parents should have a say in education. Virginia’s laws reinforce parents’ fundamental rights to make decisions with regards to their child’s upbringing and care. As governor, it is my duty to protect the health and welfare of Virginians. My predecessor issued executive orders at the beginning of the pandemic to accomplish what he viewed as his responsibility. Almost two years later, it is time to adjust our approach to the coronavirus emergency, while considering vaccinations, natural immunity, and the adverse mental and physical health effects on children. A path through the end of this pandemic is possible while also respecting individual freedom and choice. We can keep kids in school, provide a parental opt out to mask mandates, and protect lives and livelihoods.
On Day 1 of my administration, I signed an executive order that delivered on a promise I made to parents, empowering them to make decisions regarding their children. While some are seeking to sow division between masking factions, I want to be clear: My executive order ensures that parents can opt out their kids from a school’s mask mandate. It bans neither the wearing of masks nor the issuing of mask mandates. Parents can now choose whether wearing a mask at school is right for their child. There is no one better to determine what is best for children, especially after two years of a pandemic, than their parents. And only they should be able to decide whether wearing a mask in school is the right choice for their children.