‘We don’t want to be losing our children’: Newport News parents fear fallout from Youngkin rescinding school mask mandates

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Posted at 10:07 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 15:26:38-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - There's a strong reaction to Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's push to drop mask mandates in schools. News 3 reporter Kelsey Jones heard from parents on both sides of this controversial issue.

Sajada Lewis, parent of children in the Newport News Public Schools system, said, "We don't want to be losing our children, and these are our future."

Lewis has six kids attending Newport News Public Schools, and she said she's fearful of the idea kids might not wear masks in schools.

"The numbers are already going up - they're not going down, and people are still getting vaccinated, and the numbers are still going up," said Lewis.

Gov. Youngkin said, "As we battle COVID, it's parents that should decide the health measures taken for their children."

The executive order takes effect Monday, January 24, so the previous order requiring masks in schools remains in effect for the rest of this week.

Newport News Public Schools officials sent a statement saying, "They will continue to prioritize the health and well-being of students and follow current CDC guidelines."

"Again, this body passed a law that protects parents' fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care for their children," said Youngkin.

Although Youngkin said the order is about giving parents choices, one Virginia Beach parent shared his sons' views on masks.

"I would be opting out of them wearing a mask to school. To say they don't like it is a understatement. It's uncomfortable; it's hard for them to breathe," said Chas Faison.

However, some parents tell News 3 they hope the school board votes this week to continue to make masks mandatory.

Related: Local schools respond to Gov. Youngkin's executive order on masks in school

"I hope that they see that this is what's best for our children," said Lewis.

This order was issued on January 15. It cancels the mask mandate in schools and allows to parents to opt their children out of wearing a mask.

Click here for full Safely at School coverage.