Tazewell County Schools to follow Monday deadline to end mask mandate

Tazewell County School Board
Tazewell County School Board(WVVA)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 3:55 PM EST
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TAZEWELL, Va. (WVVA) - Tazewell County Public Schools will no longer require students to wear masks. The change comes following an executive order signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin set to take effect Monday.

According to the order, as of Jan. 24 “the parents of any child enrolled in a elementary or secondary school or a school based early childcare and educational program may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child’s school or educational program.”

Tazewell County Public Schools said it will abide by the order, telling parents in a statement to “please let your children know if you want them to wear a mask in school buildings.” The district added the wearing of masks will now be up to parents’ discretion.

According to superintendent Dr. Christoper Stacy, the district didn’t plan to require masks when former Gov. Ralph Northam ordered it to last year.

“Originally back in the fall, Tazewell County Public Schools, we decided we were going to make masks optional,” said Stacy. “A preceding governor’s executive order said that we would all wear masks. So this mandate, this executive order, is going to change things how we operate.

In preparation for the change the district has consulted the county’s health department, noting their main goal is to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

“Our primary objective is safety,” said Stacy. “And so we want to make sure everything we do is in the best interest of our students, of our employees.”

The issue now goes to the state’s Supreme Court. A group of parents have since filed a lawsuit challenging Youngkin’s executive order, citing a 2021 state law which requires schools to allow in-person learning while adhering to the CDC’s COVID-19 mitigation strategies.

Regardless, there’s no indication the district plans to require masks moving forward. You can see the district’s statement from Thursday here.

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