Roanoke County parents, teachers and students speak out about masks in schools

Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 11:50 PM EST
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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - On a day with no school due to snow, heaps of Roanoke County parents still went to a scheduled school board meeting hours before the start time, sharing one purpose.

“It has been a personal issue,” said parent Jen Garrett.

“I’m hopeful that this board will hear our voices,” said parent and nurse Katie Dralle.

“She doesn’t have any trouble wearing it, it doesn’t bother her,” said parent Sam Chafin, describing the mask his kindergarten daughter Monica Chafin Hofer was wearing, as she stood next to her dad.

Inside the meeting, though, different perspectives were shared.

“Masks do nothing for us, we still have to quarantine and students are still getting sick. The vaccinated and unvaccinated all alike,” said student Eva Brown.

“It should be my choice. If you want to choose to mask do it. No one cares, I don’t care, but why do you care so much if I don’t want to do that?” said another parent.

The decision for masks to be worn in schools has been a hot button topic for several weeks. January 4, the school board passed a motion for masks to be optional for students if Governor Glenn Youngkin canceled the state’s mask-related public health order. Two days later that vote was rescinded.

January 15, one of Governor Youngkin’s eleven Day 1 executive orders was in fact to make mask-wearing optional.

Speakers on both sides of the debate agreed they don’t enjoy wearing masks, but that was one of the only things agreed on. Members of the school board were both praised and criticized.

“I don’t come here to tell you how to do your jobs. I come here to caution you on how not to do your job,” said a grandparent.

As the clock continued ticking, several seats became empty, but every speaker who signed up took their three minutes each, and some even pushed the time limit, which received pushback from other speakers.

32 speakers took the podium, though there was no vote or decision made by the school board Tuesday regarding masks. According to school board members, more information is still needed on how executive order 2 works with SB 1303.

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