Tuesday, June 25, 2024

From Both Sides: Parents’ Choice Regarding Masking in Virginia’s Public Schools

Dels. Mike Mullin (D-93) and Amanda Batten (D-96) weigh in on their votes regarding SB 739, which calls for an end to universal mask mandates in Virginia’s public schools (Images courtesy of the Delegates’ respective offices)

HISTORIC TRIANGLE — In this new recurring series from WYDaily, we will bring to you a topic that is pertinent to the residents of the Historic Triangle and give you the thoughts of two experts from opposing sides of this topic.

Today’s Topic: The End of Universal Masking for Students in Virginia’s Public School Systems

Senate Bill (SB) 739 has made headlines across the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The bill provides for parents to have the option to send their kids to Virginia’s public schools without masks. This gives parents and students the choice to completely bypass any mask mandates previously imposed on Virginia’s school systems.

SB 739 was successfully passed through the Virginia Senate on Feb. 9, in a 21 to 17 vote. Then, on Feb. 14, the Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill in a 52 to 48 vote

The bill has since made its way to Governor Youngkin’s desk where he added his recommendations. Part of the Governor’s recommendations is an emergency clause that would make the bill effective no later than March 1, 2022. 

The bill, along with the Governor’s recommendations, will now have to go through the Virginia General Assembly again for a vote on whether or not to approve these recommendations.

SB 739 originated from the State Senate. As a result, that’s the governing body that will vote first on these new additions to the bill.

WYDaily’s Multimedia Journalist Dominic Catacora reached out to Dels. Mike Mullin (D-93) and Amanda Batten (R-96) for comment. Del. Mullin represents the 93rd District, which is comprised of parts of James City and York counties, as well as part of the City of Newport News and the entirety of the City of Williamsburg. Del. Batten represents the 96th District, which is comprised of parts of James City and York counties.

Del. Mike Mullin (D-93)
Vote: Nay
Del. Mike Mullin (D-93) (Courtesy Mike Mullin for House of Delegates/Katherine Sparks)

“This decision should be made at the local level. School boards and different regions of the Commonwealth are best equipped to be able to make this decision based on local flare-ups. We’ve seen in the last year and a half that flare-ups can be very localized. During Omicron, Hampton Roads was hit substantially harder than much of the rest of the state. To make sure that regional and local flare-ups can still be handled by the localities my position was that this decision should be made on the local level.”

Del. Amanda Batten (R-96)
Vote: Yea
Del. Amanda Batten (R-96) (Courtesy of AmandaBatten.com)

“State after state has ended their mask mandate, and with good reason. Vaccines are widely available and are highly effective. Children are among those least impacted by COVID[-19], but the most impacted by masks. It’s time for parents to make the decision on what’s right for their children.”

What are your thoughts on this topic?

To find more information and to contact your local delegate, please visit the directory for members of Virginia’s House of Delegates.

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