VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. – A Tuesday Virginia Beach School Board meeting went very long, with a vote happening after midnight which now means masks will be required in Virginia Beach Public Schools.
It was a packed meeting, with officials addressing the plan for the upcoming year, including masks.
Dozens of parents and students spoke out, either for masks being in school or leaving the decision to mask up to the parents.
“Let parents parent,” Amy Solares said during Tuesday’s meeting. “Let parents decide whether or not to mask their children.”
This comes after Gov. Ralph Northam recently mentioned a new law requiring schools to follow CDC guidelines, which recommend everyone wear them, regardless of vaccination status.
It also comes after other local school districts, including Chesapeake Public Schools, moved to make masks optional.
Before the meeting, many parents rallied to let the decision of masking in schools be up to parents. Some parents continued to voice that message during the meeting.
“Mandating masks for children is nothing but totalitarian control and child abuse,” grandparent Thomas Conant said.
“I find it hard to be nice when I think of my kid being able to breathe all day in school,” parent Annie Palumbo said. “This mask thing has gotten really ugly. Really ugly, really fast.”
Meanwhile, other parents, students and teachers advocated for masks this upcoming school year.
“I still wear masks when I go places because I have a 3-year-old sister that isn’t able to get a vaccine,” student Amaya Nathaniel said. “I want to keep her safe and be a good role model.”
“My students are too young to be vaccinated. They can’t choose to protect themselves yet,” teacher and parent Cat Evans said. “It’s up to us to keep them safe.”
VBCPS Superintendent Dr. Aaron Spence was not present at Tuesday’s school board meeting due to health reasons.
Around 12:45 a.m., a vote was finally made and the motion to make masks optional in all Virginia Beach Public Schools did not pass. The vote was four yes and seven no, meaning masks will be required in all school buildings and on buses but not outdoors.
Additionally, the 2021-2022 reopening plan was approved with a vote of seven yes to four no.
We’re on speaker 4 so far at tonight’s @vbschools meeting - so far, speakers have been advocating for masks in schools - meanwhile, dozens of families rallied outside meeting for parents to have decision on masking @WTKR3 pic.twitter.com/EKI23F8esf— Zak Dahlheimer (@ZakDahlheimer) August 10, 2021
So far it’s been mixed with many speaking against masks or for an optional mask policy; a good number of folks, including students, have also spoke in favor of masks for the upcoming school year. One person was asked to leave following speaking after yelling to board @WTKR3— Zak Dahlheimer (@ZakDahlheimer) August 10, 2021