Face masks are optional in Loudoun County, Virginia, public schools as of Thursday morning following a lengthy, political battle.
The school district announced the change late Wednesday after Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed legislation allowing parents to opt their children out of wearing masks in school and barred schools from disciplining those students. The legislation also required schools to offer in-person instruction five days per week.
Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) superintendent Scott Ziegler initially announced a Feb. 22 end to forced masking on Wednesday, but a circuit court judge ended the mask mandate with immediate effect the same evening, according to LCPS.
Students disciplined for defying mask requirements will have their records cleared in accordance with the circuit court’s order, the LCPS announcement said.
Ziegler asked the community to respect the decisions of others about whether to send their children to school in a mask, calling it a “deeply personal” matter.
“No one should be made to feel uncomfortable about their choice,” Ziegler said.
The school district will still force preschoolers to wear masks, and it will require all students to wear masks on buses, in accordance with federal regulations and a federal order, an LCPS announcement explained.
Loudoun County, along with several other districts in Virginia’s Washington, D.C., suburbs, fought Youngkin’s executive order banning mask mandates. State Democrats supported these efforts, but several Democrats suddenly flipped on the masking issue and voted in favor of legislation ending mandatory masking in early February.
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