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Masks to be required in Virginia Beach public schools

A lineup 67 of passionate speakers faced the school board both in-person and online. Some urged the board to require masks while others wanted optional masking.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — After an eight-hour meeting, the Virginia Beach school board decided to make masks mandatory for the upcoming school year.

The school reopening plan passed with a 7-4 vote which recommends making masks mandatory and the resolution to make masks optional did not pass.

A lineup 67 of passionate speakers faced the Virginia Beach school board both in-person and online.

Some urged the board to require masks.

“I would like to see us put proper mitigation measures in place to keep our children safe. I am an elementary teacher, my students cannot get vaccinated. They are too young,” said teacher Cat Evans.

Tonya Rivers agreed.

“I wish they didn’t need to wear them and that we didn’t need to have this conversation again but the fact is the pandemic is not over.”

Others pressed the board to leave the decision up to the parents.

“It’s his body. I’m his parent. I get to choose what goes him,” said parent Annie Palumbo.

Amber Thompson, also a parent, echoed that sentiment.

“At the end of the day, I truly don’t understand this issue here. With masks being optional, parents that feel more comfortable masking their children can still do just that.”

At times, the meeting was heated between the opposing sides.

“You all make me sick,” Palumbo told the board.

This vote comes after the school board rejected a proposal to make masks optional back in July, saying they wanted more advice from the school administration.

This comes as Governor Ralph Northam has said school divisions have to follow the CDC’s guidance on masks to the maximum extent practicable because of a recent Virginia Law.

So far, the Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth and Williamsburg/James City County School Divisions announced universal masking.

York County and Chesapeake have said masks will be optional.

Plans for the Norfolk and Suffolk school divisions are still unknown.

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