Feb 16, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Virginia Governor signs bill ending school mask mandates

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin
Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to members of the media following a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at the Virginia Executive Mansion, in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 15, 2022. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed a bill Wednesday ending school mask mandates, days after it cleared the state legislature.

Driving the news: The legislation, which will take effect on March 1, will allow parents to opt their children out of wearing a mask. It will put Virginia among the list of states to relax COVID-19 safety measures, as case numbers have declined.

  • States have cited a significant decrease in case numbers since the peak of the Omicron variant as a reason to drop their mask mandates.

Context: Youngkin, who made the issue of masking in schools a central part of his campaign for governor, tried to ban mask mandates by executive order last month but was met with a slew of lawsuits.

Yes, but: Some public health experts have questioned whether or dropping the mask mandate now is the right choice, according to CNN.

What he's saying: "[We are] reaffirming the rights that we know all parents have, the fundamental rights to make decisions for your children, for their education, for their upbringing and for their care," Youngkin said at the bill signing on Wednesday.

  • Youngkin added that students and parents "have been so strong through all of this."
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