IW School Board to reconsider masks

Published 3:38 pm Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Isle of Wight County’s School Board will hold a special meeting Jan. 20 to reconsider its mask policy in light of Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order repealing Virginia’s universal K-12 mask mandate.

Youngkin issued the order on Jan. 15, his first day in office. It mandates that parents be allowed to opt their children out of any school-imposed mask mandate, without needing to provide a reason.

The meeting will be held in the auditorium of Westside Elementary School at 6 p.m. As Youngkin’s order doesn’t take effect until Jan. 24, Isle of Wight County Schools will still require masks for all attendees — visitors, staff and students.

There will be no public comment period, according to IWCS spokeswoman Lynn Briggs.

Isle of Wight’s School Board, which has seen four of its five seats change hands since last year, had initially planned to make masks optional for the current school year. Those plans changed last August when former State Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver issued a public health order mandating K-12 masking amid a surge in COVID-19 cases fueled by the more contagious delta variant.

Oliver left his post — according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch at Youngkin’s urging — on Jan. 14. Youngkin’s order directs the new acting state health commissioner — former Lord Fairfax Health District Director Dr. Collin Greene — to terminate his predecessor’s public health order. It further directs Youngkin’s pick for Virginia’s new superintendent of public instruction, Jillian Barlow, to “rescind the Interim Guidance for COVID-19 Prevention in Virginia PreK-12 Schools” and “issue new guidance for COVID-19 Prevention consistent with this Order.”