Some parents in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, rallied Monday to try to convince the school board to let all students return to school in the fall without masks, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.
Virginia’s health department has indicated it will follow new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that states vaccinated teachers and students don't need to wear masks inside school buildings. If so, it’s likely thousands of vaccinated students and teachers in Virginia will come back to the classroom without masks.
But the group of parents rallying in Spotsylvania County want mask restrictions lifted for everyone — including those who aren't vaccinated.
"We truly believe that the option of wearing the mask should be left up to parents and not the board or the state," rally organizer Amy Sudbeck said. Her 14-year-old son is not vaccinated.
While the mortality rate for children who contract COVID-19 is low, Sudbeck claims the negative impact of masks on their academic and social progress is high.
"Our schools are here for our children to learn and grow and thrive — and they’re not," Sudbeck said.
"I think everybody should be able to ditch the mask, I really do," said Pamela Beanum, who has middle and high school-age children. "Let them be free. Let them be kids because last year was horrible."
Other parents told News4 they are in favor of keeping their children masked in school.
"She’s fine wearing it so it doesn't bother me. She’s alright with it. I'm alright with it too," mother Kayla Taylor said. Her daughter will be in kindergarten.
"I definitely do not support children and teachers who have not been vaccinated to be unmasked. I believe everyone has a responsibility to be protected," Georgia Bouie said. She and her 14-year-old daughter are residents of Prince William County.
Some parents rallied and spoke out at the school board meeting in favor of a proposal to let them decide whether their kids should wear masks.
School board members were conflicted about the proposed policy, and some said they didn’t want to make a decision that could be reversed if the Virginia Department of Health comes out with differing guidance.
“We’ve been going by the CDC guidance for the past year,” school board member Lorita Daniels said. “Now all the sudden we don’t want to go by the CDC guidance. I don’t understand that.”
“I’m just personally sick of waiting for the CDC doctors and the state to tell us what we’re doing with our lives,” school board member Rabih Abuismail said.
The school board rejected the proposal 4-3 following heated moments but decided to reconsider the issue at a later board meeting.