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Newport News Public Schools will keep its mask mandate

Newport News joins school divisions in York County, Portsmouth, Norfolk and Williamsburg-James City County in keeping mask requirements in place.

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Newport News Public Schools (NNPS) said it will continue to require students and staff to wear a mask despite Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order to make masks optional in schools.

Newport News joins most other school divisions in Hampton Roads in keeping mask requirements in place. The school boards of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake and Poquoson voted to make masks optional, in line with Youngkin's order.

The school division's decision came after legal consultation, as well as a review of state and federal mask requirements and recommendations. 

NNPS said it will require wearing masks, social distancing, handwashing, cleaning and sanitizing and contact tracing until the Virginia legislature or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provide further guidance.

Youngkin's Executive Order 2 says parents can decide if their children are subject to mask mandates within school or educational programs.

But the order conflicts with Senate Bill 1303, a Virginia law requiring schools to adhere to COVID-19 mitigation strategies recommended by the CDC.

Right now, the CDC recommends universal indoor masking by all students and staff regardless of vaccination status.

Youngkin's order is set to take effect on Jan. 24.

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