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Virginia Dems Abandon Liberal Schools, Vote To Let Parents Make Mask Decisions

Bill could end legal challenges to Gov. Youngkin’s executive order

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin (R.) / Getty Images
• February 8, 2022 5:33 pm

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Democrats in Virginia's state Senate on Tuesday voted to codify Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R.) executive order giving parents the right to decide whether their children should wear masks at school.

Ten Democratic state senators joined with their Republican colleagues to add the masking provision to a bill that would require schools to resume in-person learning, the Washington Post reported. If passed, the bill could take the air out of legal challenges to Youngkin's Jan. 15 executive order.

School officials in Virginia's liberal enclaves announced that they would maintain mask mandates hours after Youngkin signed the order. Loudoun County Schools suspended students who came to school without masks. Seven Virginia school districts filed suit against the order, which they say contradicts a state law directing schools to implement mask mandates based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance.

The amendment, proposed by moderate Democratic state senator Chap Petersen, passed 29 to 9. A longtime opponent of executive orders, Petersen slammed former governor Ralph Northam's (D.) executive order mandating masks in schools.

Youngkin praised Petersen on Tuesday in a tweet vowing to sign the bill once it reaches his desk. The bill likely won't encounter opposition in the Virginia House of Delegates, which Republicans took control of in November.

The Senate will take up the bill on Wednesday.