Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin weighed in Thursday about two Northern Virginia school districts that have suspended students who refuse to wear masks at school.
"I'm very disappointed in that, and as I have very clearly articulated, parents should have, and — based on my executive order — do have, the right to decide whether their child wears a mask or not," Youngkin told News4. "And this is about their child's health. This is about who is best positioned to make a decision with regards to their child's health."
Fairfax County Public Schools considers refusal to wear a mask a violation of the dress code. The school system said it suspended 24 children on Jan. 25 for not wearing masks.
In Loudoun County, 29 students were suspended as of Thursday. Administrators had initially isolated the students without masks to auditoriums or gyms in their respective schools, but began suspending students this week.
Youngkin said "history will not look fondly upon" the two counties' school boards.
"One of the things that we know is having children in the classroom is so important right now," he said.
Parents of some of the children suspended said they want to follow Youngkin’s
executive order, which gives parents the choice to decide whether their children wear masks.
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Stephanie Lundquist-Arora says her three sons who attend schools in Fairfax County chose not to wear masks.
“My sons feel that they should have the right now not to wear a mask, so I left it up to them,” she previously told News4.
All three boys are trying to keep up with their studies from home as they are suspended day after day.
“I think it’s incredibly draconian,” Lundquist-Arora said. “I think it’s unbelievable. We pay for public education; we have the right to in-person education.”
"I think that these students should be allowed in the classroom. I’m disappointed that they're not, and I'm just so proud of parents that are standing up to protect their children's rights," Youngkin said Thursday.
Lundquist-Arora said she sent several emails to the superintendent appealing the suspensions. She said she and her sons believe Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to decide about masks should guide school policy. But FCPS and many Northern Virginia school districts are keeping mandates in place, citing a state law that requires that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines be followed.
In Alexandria and Arlington, only a handful violated mandates. Alexandria school officials say the small number of students who went to school without masks last week were offered one, and all then complied with wearing them.
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