UniteGPS – In a bid to empower parents, Gov. Glenn Youngkin has fulfilled his promise to implement a mask mandate ban across Virginia with the passing of bill SB739. Effective March 1, mask enforcement will be up to parents’ discretion but still mandatory on school buses per federal regulation. Only for strict circumstances, the ruling also prohibits school districts from shutting down or switching to remote instruction.

“Today, we are re-establishing and restoring our power back to parents,” said Youngkin during the signing ceremony on Wednesday, Feb. 16 in Richmond,  “We are also reestablishing our expectations that we will get back to normal, and this is the path.”

Setting the stage for this was a 21-19 bipartisan vote in the Virginia Senate followed by a 52-48 party-line vote in the House this past Monday.

Mask mandate ban in Virginia

This news comes after the Virginia General Assembly allowed Gov. Youngkin to make an immediate amendment instead of waiting until July 1 as lawmakers originally planned. School districts now have until March 1 to comply. Supporters like Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant spoke at the signing ceremony in favor of removing politics from the equation.

“Parents make the decisions for their children; the political entities need to get out,” the senator said. “Parents, you talk to your doctors all the time; you can read what the recommendations are, and you can look at the complexity of your child and decide what’s right.”

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According to WTOP News, lawmakers have challenged the legality of SB739 based on how it oversteps decisions that typically school districts would make. Another issue is whether it’s constitutional to enact a bill that began on an emergency basis by a majority vote.

Yet after drawing bipartisan support, Gov. Youngkin emphasized that masks are still welcomed.

“If you choose your child shouldn’t wear a mask, you can make that decision, and if you want your child to wear a mask, you can make that decision as well,” said the governor. “And that’s what Virginia is all about.” 

While the Center for Disease Control still recommends wearing mask use in schools, Gov. Youngkin contends that healthy and vaccinated students have no excuse to wear masks in school. At the end of the day, recommendations by the Center for Disease Control are still in effect, meaning any form of public transportation requires masks. How Virginia will enforce masks on school buses, however, has yet to be seen.