The Chesapeake Education Association ratified a vote of no confidence in the city's school board after the board voted to make masks optional in schools beginning January 24th.
In a statement, the Chesapeake Education Association called the school board's actions "reckless" and said the vote reflects "an utter lack of confidence in Chesapeake School Board members' ability to lead ethically and equitably."
In a vote of 7-1 last week, members of the Chesapeake School Board voted to give parents the option of whether or not to have masks for their student. The vote came after Gov. Glenn Youngkin rescinded mask mandates in schools across Virginia with an executive order signed the day he took office.
"If we take away one of the mitigation measures such as optional masking, COVID-19 can transmit more in our classroom. We all know that masks don’t prevent the spread of COVID in our school buildings and other community areas. Masks reduce the spread of COVID-19. Our students deserve to have a safe learning environment," Reagan Davis, the president of Chesapeake Education Association said.
Chesapeake school board’s decision to make masks optional comes after Governor Youngkin's executive order to rescind mask mandate in classrooms. The order goes into effect on Monday, January 24th.
The Chesapeake Education Association says they want to work with the Chesapeake school board to make decisions for the well-being of students and educators.
"This vote of no confidence, we are hoping that now that the message had been made clear of the stance of the Chesapeake Education Association that it is time for the Chesapeake Association members to have a place at the table with our school board," Davis said.
Seven school board members voted in favor to make masks optional and one member voted against optional masking.
"Chesapeake Education Association is extremely thankful and appreciative for the work of Dr. Patricia King in her statement and vote in opposition to make masks optional for students," Davis said.
On Tuesday, 13 Chesapeake Public Schools parents filed a lawsuit in which they state that Gov. Youngkin does not have the authority that he claims to make masks optional in schools. Thursday, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said he asked the Supreme Court of Virginia to dismiss the lawsuit against Youngkin and Executive Order Two.
The full text of the Chesapeake Education Association's vote of no confidence is as follows:
Since March 2020, the educational staff of Chesapeake Public Schools have collectively made the best of a global pandemic by continuing to provide a top-tier education for the children of Chesapeake. We continually rebuild, replan, and rethink how best to serve our students in every facet of the school day to ensure students are safe and learning. The School Board's actions have been hostile toward staff attempts to serve all students in these uncertain times. As such, and in light of our School Board's reckless disregard to state law and school community safety by permitting optional student masking on Thursday, January 20, the members of the Chesapeake Education Association motioned and ratified a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the City of Chesapeake School Board. This vote reflects an utter lack of confidence in Chesapeake School Board members' ability to lead ethically and equitably. We submit that the elected representatives serving on the City of Chesapeake School Board continue to display an unwillingness to consider the safety of their employees and students during a time when the city's test positivity rates rank near fifty percent, which is far higher than last year's rates at this same time when many schools were on a hybrid schedule. This decision demonstrates that the School Board lacks a sincere desire to support a meaningfully safe environment in our school buildings. The potential of negative, life-threatening impacts further bolsters this position of NO CONFIDENCE.