NORFOLK, Va. — UPDATE: The Norfolk School Board voted unanimously to keep its mask mandate in place Wednesday night, defying Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order that makes masks optional in schools.
Norfolk Public Schools (NPS) said the vote requires all who ride school buses and enter schools and other facilities to remain masked.
Youngkin signed his executive order on Saturday, Jan. 15, saying it would "empower Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing." It is set to take effect on Monday, Jan. 24.
In response, several school divisions in Hampton Roads said they would keep mask requirements in place as they await more guidance from the state government.
On Tuesday, a group of parents in Chesapeake filed a lawsuit against Youngkin, saying the order violates Virginia law that requires school boards to adhere to guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
During a Wednesday night meeting, Norfolk School Board Chair Dr. Adale Martin said the school division remains committed to protecting students and staff, amid inquiries about Youngkin's order.
She vowed that the division would continue to adhere to protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health officials.
Dr. Martin then read a directive to Superintendent Dr. Sharon Byrdsong requesting to continue adhering to health and safety protocols. The board unanimously approved it.
NPS said it would continue to work with the board to make decisions regarding the health, safety and well-being of students and staff.
You can visit NPS' website for more information about the school division's COVID-19 health and safety protocols.