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By Jim Geraghty, National Review

Virginia’s new Republican governor upon taking office issued an executive order declaring that parents will decide whether their children wear masks to school, and several school districts are declaring their intent to ignore or defy the executive order, including Fairfax, Prince William, Alexandria, Arlington Richmond, and Henrico counties.

Let us examine the freak-out that is occurring in Virginia, as a Washington Post headline declares that the state’s new governor, Glenn Youngkin, “terrifies” some people.

First, in early 2021, the Virginia state legislature passed, and governor Ralph Northam signed into law, a bill declaring that:

Each school board shall (i) adopt, implement, and, when appropriate, update specific parameters for the provision of in-person instruction and (ii) provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This is why Virginia Democratic state senator L. Louis Lucas declared, “Cry harder, governor! Your executive orders do not change LAWS we passed. Better learn how government works, we elect governors, not dictators” and maturely added, “Please retweet this before we drown in these tears!” (I can remember a time when Virginia Democrats believed acting immaturely on Twitter was one of the worst things an elected official could do, from roughly January 20, 2017, to January 20, 2021.)

Those who support masking contend that masks qualify as a “currently applicable mitigation strategy” endorsed by the CDC. But the legislation doesn’t specifically mention masks, and the GOP-controlled state legislature could well pass legislation declaring that masks are no longer required.

As for the question of whether Youngkin’s executive order is “terrifying” and endangers children . . . every child from ages five to eleven has been eligible to get vaccinated since November. Every child from twelve to 18 has been eligible to get vaccinated since May, and the FDA approved boosters for kids twelve and up at the beginning of the month.

… (I)f a Virginia parent is concerned about their child catching Covid-19, they have the option of getting that child vaccinated, and if that child is twelve or older, they have the option to get that child boosted. That is the single best thing they can do to mitigate the effects of a virus that Dr. Anthony Fauci has said will infect “just about everybody.”

Second, parents still have the option of having their child wear a mask. It is worth keeping in mind that mask mandates have done little to prevent the spread of the Omicron variant, if they’ve done anything at all. The District of Columbia reinstated its mask mandate on December 21, requiring masks in offices, gyms, stores, entertainment venues, houses of worship, restaurants (unless you are actively eating or drinking), and other establishments. Masks were always required in D.C. schools, health-care facilities, and on public transit. On December 21, the District had a bit more than 76,000 total cases since the start of the pandemic; as of yesterday, it had more than 121,000. In other words, more than 37 percent of the District’s total cases since the start of the pandemic have occurred in the past month, after the mask mandate was put into effect.

You probably saw the assessment of Dr. Leana Wen, a CNN medical analyst, declaring on the news network on December 22 that, “Cloth masks are not appropriate for this pandemic. It was — it is not appropriate for Omicron, it was not appropriate for Delta, Alpha or any of the previous variants either because we’re dealing with something that’s airborne, we’re dealing with a virus that’s extremely contagious.” So for two years, we’ve been having fistfights, brawls, and stabbings over masks that “are not appropriate for this pandemic.”

Under Governor Youngkin’s executive order, if you want your child wearing a mask to school, your child wears a mask to school. Nothing in the executive order bars you from making the choice that you think is best for your child. Governor Youngkin isn’t making anyone do anything.

Whether or not the kid down the row in the classroom wears a mask is going to have a marginal effect, if any, on whether your child catches the Omicron variant. And remember, kids take off those masks during lunch or snack time, anyway.

If your child wants to wear a mask, and doesn’t mind wearing a mask, fine. Let them keep wearing a mask. But the fact that your child is comfortable wearing a mask does not mean that other parents are making up stories about their children being uncomfortable wearing masks. It doesn’t mean that other parents are unreasonable for being worried about language and speech development, overall cognitive development, mental health, and other issues.

Read more at National Review.

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