NORFOLK, Va. - The Norfolk Public Schools board voted Wednesday night to continue the school system's existing mask policy after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order rescinding mask mandates inside of schools.
The board’s vote requires everyone who rides NPS school buses and enter its schools and other facilities to remain masked. The division will continue to adhere to other COVID-19 safety protocols as recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Virginia and Norfolk Departments of Public Health.
"As we have stated on a number of occasions, it is a top priority for Norfolk Public Schools to provide a safe learning and work environment," the school board said in Wednesday's meeting. "We will continue to follow mask-wearing, along with other COVID safety protocols, as recommended by the Center for Disease Control and the Virginia and Norfolk Departments of Health.
"Should you need clarity around our COVID protocols, please visit the Norfolk Public Schools website and social media accounts, or you can ask your school administrators.
"On behalf of the Norfolk Public School Board, we DIRECT our superintendent, Dr. Byrdsong, to continue to adhere to our existing health and safety protocols, as outlined in the Norfolk Public School Health mitigation plan, which includes a requirement for all individuals to wear a mask while on school buses, and within our schools and division-wide facilities."
Dr. Byrdsong said they will keep schools open for in-person instruction for "as long as we are able to do so safely."
The executive order doesn't take effect until January 24, so the previous order requiring masks in schools remains in effect for this week.
Youngkin said the order is about giving parents choices.
"Permitting parents to make decisions on where and when to wear masks permits the Commonwealth’s parents to make the best decision for the circumstances confronting each child," he wrote in the order.
Recently, Delegate Jackie Glass (D-Norfolk) released a statement on Youngkin's executive order, saying "educators, parents and students should always feel empowered to advocate and make choices for themselves" regardless of the specifics of Youngkin's order.
Local school districts have also responded to Gov. Youngkin's executive order rescinding mask mandates inside of schools.