RICHMOND, Va. — Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly are blasting Governor Glenn Youngkin's move to lift mask mandates in public schools.
"Who do you think will pay the price for this reckless action? Our children," said Del. Candi Mundon King (D-Prince William County) in a speech Monday on the floor of the House of Delegates.
King continued: "I ask him to rescind this executive order and stop threatening to defund our schools."
House Minority Leader Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) in an interview with 13News Now, said Youngkin's order "conflicts with active legislation."
In 2021, the General Assembly passed a bill that says each Virginia school board is required to offer in-person instruction that adheres “to the maximum extent practicable” to COVID-19 mitigation guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC currently recommends universal masking by anyone 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status.
Filler-Corn said, "For Governor Youngkin to step in on day one and remove the local boards' authority, ability to implement mask requirements in school is really reckless and it's driven by politics and I'm hopeful that the governor will rescind his executive order."
House Republicans are defending Youngkin's decision.
"Parents, not bureaucrats, not elected officials are the proper decision-makers for whether their children should wear masks in school or not," said Del. Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach).
Davis continued: "We just had an election about this. And the side that backed parents won. And the side that said, 'I don't think parents should be telling teachers what they should teach' lost."
The governor's office released a statement that was nearly identical to an earlier statement about lawsuits that have been filed against Youngkin.
In this statement, his spokesperson said: "We are disappointed that some are ignoring parents' rights. The governor and attorney general are in coordination and are committed to aggressively defending parents' fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child's upbringing, education, and care, as the legal process plays out."
Meanwhile, the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee has killed two Republican-backed bills that would have banned public places -- including schools and businesses -- from requiring masks or asking people to disclose their vaccination status to enter.