VDH urges Chesapeake students to wear masks despite school board’s decision to make them optional next month


CHESAPEAKE, Va (WAVY) — The Virginia Department of Health said on Thursday that it strongly advises school-aged children to wear masks despite a decision from the Chesapeake School Board that will make masks optional starting Jan. 3.

In a statement, VDH told WAVY: “VDH officials are concerned that removing a mask requirement in K12 Schools, during a time when a surge in COVID-19 cases is anticipated due to the holidays, will unnecessarily create an environment in which students and staff, and their families at home, will be more vulnerable to COVID-19 transmission in school.”

VDH also pointed to the fact that vaccines for young students, those ages 5 to 11, have only recently been approved and right now only 9.3 % in this age group are fully vaccinated.

Governor-elect Glenn Yongkin has indicated that he will remove the mask mandate for all students once he takes office Jan. 15, but as of now, the Order of the State Health Commissioner that requires all individuals age 2 and older to wear masks when indoors at public and private K-12 schools still remains in full force and effect.

VDH says any parent or guardian who has an issue with the Chesapeake School Board’s decision should review this state code: Code of Virginia § 22.1-87 which says parents have 30 days to petition the court to review any school board action.

We reached out to school board members and the city attorney and are waiting on responses.

In the meantime, state delegate and local attorney Steve Heretick, (D-79th District) said: “Our courts exist for this reason and that is when there are disagreements about public policy or law or legal authority that’s what judges are there to help decide.”

Heretick said he is familiar with some lawsuits attempting to challenge mask mandates. Those, he said, are having little success in Virginia courts.

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