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One of the General Assembly’s Republican leaders wasted no time criticizing the COVID-related guidance issued to schools across Virginia. It recommends that all students and staff in elementary schools wear masks, regardless of vaccination status. House Minority Leader Todd Gilbert says that guidance is inconsistent with science, it passes the buck to local school systems, and it will lead to widespread confusion. Gilbert says there is “nothing to indicate that requiring an eight-year-old to wear a mask .. will substantially reduce the transmission of COVID.”

GILBERT STATEMENT: “Governor Northam failed Virginians throughout the pandemic, and this new guidance is just another example. It is inconsistent with science, passes the buck to local school divisions, will spark mass confusion, and will make it more difficult as our students return to the classroom this fall. It’s an especially cruel requirement for young children, and will only make it more difficult for our teachers to inspire a love of learning in students.

“To be clear, I urge Virginians to get vaccinated if at all possible, so we can continue to move past this disease, keep our economy open, and return to normal. But there’s nothing to indicate that requiring an eight-year-old to wear a mask while taking a math test will substantially reduce the transmission of COVID, or any new variant that is emerging.

“At the upcoming General Assembly special session, Republicans will once again push our Democratic colleagues to take responsibility and take legislative action against any kind of mask mandate in our schools.”