“We have held transmission levels low,” she said. “We have not had to shut a single school because of COVID. We’ve kept our kids in the classroom, and we’re going to do everything in our power to ensure that we continue that.”
The day seemed to unfold in most schools without mass chaos. In northern Virginia’s Loudoun County, no students were sent home Monday morning for defying the mask order, said Wayde Byard, a school district spokesperson.
Those who refused to wear masks were routed to school auditoriums where they could do virtual work through the school’s online platform, he said. Lunch periods were adjusted to ensure maskless students would receive lunch, he said.
At Woodgrove High School, for example, about 30 students out of more than 1,400 refused to wear masks. Four or five parents opted to pull their children. The rest stayed at the school, isolated from masked peers, he said.
He said there were angry parents at a few schools, but principals defused the situations. “It was pretty much a nonevent,” Byard said.
In Richmond, a school spokeswoman said that to the best of her knowledge, the district had no students show up maskless in protest.
Parent Carra Rose said her third grader and kindergartener — who have been wearing N95s to school — were excited that Richmond Public Schools kept its mask mandate in place.
“They’re old enough to understand what this virus can do and that their grandmother is also immunocompromised,” she said. “They wouldn’t be able to see their grandmother, and they want to keep everybody as safe as possible.”
Elicia Brand, a Loudoun County parent and co-founder of Army of Parents, a Virginia-based grassroots organization, opposes the mask mandates but said she is understanding for now of the fact that Youngkin advised parents to listen to local principals.
“We will hold him accountable to have our backs,” she said. “He has to remember it was parents who put him in office.”
She said she gave her own middle-school children the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to wear masks, and they chose to do so, in part because they did not want to stand out. She said she observed varied responses from principals across the county in how respectfully they treated maskless children.
Monday’s lawsuit came after a group of parents in Chesapeake filed a petition last week at the Virginia Supreme Court challenging the executive order. The court has so far taken no action.
Democrats commended the school boards who filed suit against Youngkin on Monday and accused the governor of using children as political pawns.
“Youngkin is quickly on his way to becoming the most divisive and authoritarian governor in our commonwealth’s long history,” state Sen. Mamie Locke said at a news conference.