Mask mandates in schools are a thing of the past in Old Dominion.
Governor Glenn Youngkin has signed into law SB739, banning mask mandates in schools.
The Virginia Republican-controlled House of Delegates passed the bill to make masks optional in schools after the Democrat-controlled State Senate passed the bill on a bipartisan vote.
The stunning reversal comes after Republicans swept the races for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General last year, largely on now-Governor Youngkin’s platform of greater parental control over education choices.
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That the bill passed a Democrat-controlled Senate is a sign of how quickly COVID restrictions are receding in the face of political pressure.
Republicans control the state’s House of Delegates by just four seats, but the vote in that chamber went down on a party-line.
The law goes into effect immediately, with a deadline of March 1st for schools to comply.
Even after bipartisan passage, the battle may not be over.
Youngkin had previously signed an executive order to the same effect, though the Loudoun County School District refused to enforce it, and has been sued by a group of parents.
Loudoun County has been the epicenter of much of the school-related political battles over masking and critical race theory that powered Youngkin to office.
The parents who have brought the lawsuit against the Loudoun County School District say that, by defying the Governor’s executive order, the district is “denying an adequate education” to their children, and “defying a lawful public health directive.”
Just this week, Breitbart reports that a judge allowed Youngkin to join the lawsuit against Loudoun County on the side of the parents.
Though with the signing of this bill, the whole suit may be moot and settled.
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Across the country, Democrat-run areas and blue states have been quickly dropping various COVID restrictions, like indoor mask mandates.
NBC News reports that half of all state mask mandates have fallen in just the last three weeks – in places like California, Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and others.
Though – many of those states are still requiring masks in schools.
Many have speculated that the sudden about-face by Democrats is a result of political pressure, particularly the upcoming midterm elections.
The New York Times of all places broke it down this way:
Driving these decisions are the growing numbers of voters signaling that they are prepared to live with the virus as it is now, and political calculations about looming midterm elections that already have Democrats on the defensive.
The question remains as to whether voters will have a long enough memory to make them pay for it.
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