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Newport News School Board weighs mask mandate after Gov. Youngkin's order

The debate over masks in Virginia schools is growing, now three days after Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an order making masks optional.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order seeking to give parents a choice about masking their students is set to take effect Monday, Jan. 24. 

However, local school administrations are left with questions about how and if they can implement it. Meantime, people on both sides of the issue are letting their voices be heard.

RELATED: Hampton Roads school division leaders respond to Gov. Youngkin's new, optional mask order

Family choice is a sentiment that some in Newport News echoed at Tuesday night’s school board meeting.

“These kids stuck behind these masks all day, it’s -- enough is enough. I’m completely against it and I would ask that you all come up with some sort of option,” said a parent.

Others in the same meeting pleaded for them to stay on, citing the risk of transmission.

“I really hope that you guys will continue in that spirit, not only to protect us teachers but also other students and family members who may be a little bit more susceptible to this,” said a teacher.

RELATED: Chesapeake parents sue Gov. Youngkin over lifting school mask mandate

Newport News School Board Chairman Douglas Brown told reporters Tuesday that the board attorney is still drafting a legal opinion.

A decision from the school administration on what’s next for masks will be released sometime later this week.

"We're still, as a division, trying to determine what the governor's order actually means, what it means in the context of the current Virginia law," said Brown.

That's because a piece of Virginia state law requires in part early childhood care/education programs, elementary schools and secondary schools to align with guidelines outlined by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

RELATED: Virginia Beach attorney weighs in on Gov. Youngkin's school mask order

School boards in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach plan to hold a special meeting Thursday about Executive Order 2 and what it will mean for their classrooms.

Other divisions – including Hampton, Norfolk and York County – said they’re waiting on more clarity, before making an announcement on their mask policies. 

Meanwhile, face coverings stay on at school this week.

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