Chesapeake parent, angry with mask mandate, will run for school board

Chesapeake

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Rather than just hurl criticisms at Chesapeake School Board members, Jared Miller wants to replace one of them with someone he feels can do a better job: himself.

Miller, with daughters in Great Bridge High School and Great Bridge Intermediate, disagrees with the board’s decision to reinstate a mask mandate, even though it aligns with a directive from the Virginia Department of Health.

“I feel like it’s a parents’ rights issue,” Miller said in a Monday afternoon interview.

He has submitted paperwork to run for a seat on the Chesapeake School Board.

“Parents have the right to choose the manner of the child’s upbringing, health care choices, quite literally everything about their child’s health and well-being is quite literally up to the parent, not up to the state,” Miller said.

Recent indicators show COVID-19 is on the rise in Chesapeake. In the past week, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have both reached their six-month peaks.

Children’s Hospital of The King’s Daughters said cases among children in Hampton Roads have also reached a new high. But Miller says he’s concerned that mask wearing is hurting his daughters’ health, rather than protecting it.

“My youngest comes home all the time — she hates the mask. She tells me about headaches, tells me about stomach aches, dizziness, etc. etc. As a father that’s pretty concerning,” he said.

But both Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic says masks do not make children sick if worn and washed properly.

Friday’s meeting erupted in shouting from the start — with parents yelling at school board members as they went into closed session. Six of nine members were present, and they voted 5-1 to require masks. The teachers’ association issued a statement supporting the decision.

Miller says staying healthy during COVID-19 is up to the individual.

“I do agree with protecting those who are most vulnerable, but in my mind, they have vaccines, they can mask themselves, honestly they should talk to their doctors about how to best protect themselves. I don’t believe it’s the public’s duty to protect everybody else,” he said.

Five of the nine seats on the school board will be on the ballot in November. Those members include Vice Chair Colleen C. Leary, Patricia Y. King, Harry A. Murphy, Christie New Craig, and Michael J. Woods.

It’s unclear how long the state public health order mandating masks at school will prevail because Gov.-Elect Glenn Youngkin told 10 On Your Side two weeks ago that he does not favor statewide mandates. He takes office January 15.

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