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'Foolish and shortsighted': Virginia Beach School Board votes down resolution to lift mask mandate

Board member Laura Hughes introduced a resolution to make masks optional for students and staff. It failed 8-3.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Virginia Beach students and teachers will continue to wear masks at school after a resolution to lift the mask mandate failed.

Since August, students, teachers and staff have kept their faces covered as COVID-19 cases fluctuate throughout Virginia.

All K-12 students are still required to mask up, per the Virginia Health Commissioner, but not all parents are happy about that.

"My younger son has sensory issues, and for as gifted as he is, he hates going to school because of having to wear these masks," said Virginia Beach parent Chas Faison.

He sat in the special called Virginia Beach school board meeting on Monday night, hoping a resolution would pass that would change that.

"Just make it optional. I can appreciate that there are various health issues out there and if you are in that high risk category, feel free," he said.

The resolution presented by the board member Laura Hughes said masks would optional for teachers, students and staff beginning January 3rd.

"This is never going to end unless people grow some backbones and start moving forward," Hughes said during the meeting.

Some were behind doing away with mandatory masking, like board member Vicki Manning.

"It is not okay and I think this is borderline abuse," she told her fellow board members.

While others, like board members Dottie Holtz and Kimberly Melnyk, say now is not the time and they should re-evaluate after the holidays, like they had previously planned.

"Doing it in the winter when [there's] a new and very contagious variant seems foolish and shortsighted to me," Holtz said.

Melnyk agrees.

"We’re trying to do right by everybody. All of our kids and all of our employees," Melnyk said. 

If the resolution would have passed, they wouldn’t have been the only district in Hampton Roads to go against the health order.

Last week, Chesapeake voted to do just that.

However, this only applies to students and not employees. They are required under a separate state rule to wear masks.

RELATED: Chesapeake School Board votes to make masks optional after winter break

"Is the air different in Chesapeake? They know these kids are not having to wear masks anymore and they’re asking why," Faison said.

Ultimately the resolution in Virginia Beach failed with an 8-3 vote.

Manning, Hughes and Carolyn Weems were the three who voted in favor. 

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