Public Comments for 02/11/2022 Education
SB739 - Public elementary and secondary schools, etc.; provision of in-person instruction.
Last Name: Roeder Locality: Fairfax County

I am in support of removing the mask mandate and not allowing local school boards to override the state guidance. It is time for citizens to make their own choice on whether wearing a mask is what they want to do or not. Every person ages 5 and up has the choice to be vaccinated at this point, we need to move on from being forced into mask wearing. Keep schools open no matter the infection rate and take away mask mandates. Bring choice back to citizens.

Last Name: Prettyman Organization: Self Locality: Fairfax County

I object to giving control of pandemic prevention mitigation to a minority of parents who have demonstrated they don’t care about the larger community more than their own comfort. Also, the legislation has no escape clause for the scenario where this or another virus needs to be mitigated with public health measures like masking. This legislation is irresponsible.

Last Name: Bailey Locality: Glen Allen

I've read many articles referencing various studies about masks. My conclusion is that students should have the option of wearing them if they want even if I personally think they are a waste.

Last Name: Avery Locality: Resident of Roanoke (Teacher in Botetourt County)

Esteemed Delegates: I am a teacher in Botetourt County, and I am writing to request that you please allow local school districts the freedom to decide on school mask policies as well as other safety measures for our students and staff throughout the commonwealth. Since Covid outbreaks and other safety issues vary to a great extence from one locality to another, this would betterprotect Virginians from unnecessary illnesses, and deaths. As you well know, disease does not discriminate on political party lines. It is my hope that you all will kindly speak to each other, be you democrat or republican, and collabrate on this issure to ensure the safety of our citizens. Yours faithfully, Michael Avery

Last Name: Bush Locality: Hampton

I am a teacher. I am also a parent, grandparent, and daughter. Being in a building with unmasked symptomatic and asymptomatic children and adults puts me at greater risk for exposure to a virus that continues to thrive around the world. I have a grandchild who resides with me and who was born prematurely. He has issues with his lungs so much so that a common cold or upper respiratory infection gives him pneumonia. I have done everything possible to keep him safe throughout this pandemic. No vacations, no visiting family, no traveling, no restaurants, no large indoor events, etc. In addition, a year before the pandemic, my parents completed treatment for cancer. Though they are in remission, they have other health issues, including being immunocompromised. If this bill passes, I will be forced to choose between my family or my career. Giving up a career, of 19 years, that I love dearly would crush me. Not to mention, I would not be able to provide for my family. Decisions made that are life and death for some people should not be made lightly over a mask. Masks are proven to provide a level of protection the same way that seatbelts do. Would a parent choose to not put their child on a seat belt because it is uncomfortable? It is a life or death situation. The difference is that the seat belt keeps that individual safe. It doesn't affect those around them. Masks provide protection to the individual and those around them. Would a doctor be elected to stop wearing a mask during surgery because he or she doesn't like them? Removing masks from buildings where there are children and adults for 7 plus hours a day would be catastrophic and irresponsible all in the name of politics. I beg those with a conscious to please think this through with a clear mind before even considering such a bill. I'm just one teacher. There are thousands of families who have similar fears and concerns. For what it's worth, please consider putting energy and efforts into finding a reasonable solution to stop the spread.

Last Name: Sarah Locality: Alexandria

Please allow school districts to have the right to require masks based on the science of community spread and vaccines. If another variant comes along that makes many people sick, school districts need to pivot to requiring masks to keep teachers and kids safe. Teachers are leaving because they don’t feel safe.

Last Name: Dunsmore Locality: Williamsburg

I strongly support SB 739. I strongly believe that children at school learning should have the option to wear or to not wear a mask. Parents have the right to make that decision for and with their children. NO MASK MANDATES!!

Last Name: Currin Organization: my students Locality: James City County

Please, please pass this bill, this law. Our students are suffering irreparable learning gaps due to these masks. The children are having such a hard time connecting with the teachers.

Last Name: Sutphin Locality: Centreville

This bill is very short-sighted. It prevents local jurisdictions from acting in a timely manner to prevent the spread of viruses that could come in the future, not to mention the current virus that is circulating. Omicron is not a common cold. People are dying from this strain. We still do not know the long term impacts it could have on childrens’ hearts, lungs, brains, and other organs. Universal masking has been proven to keep schools open. Instead of prohibiting universal masking, let’s have schools consider the health departments recommendations at the local and state levels, Local school boards should have the authority to decide what is necessary to keep schools safe. What is necessary in one part of the state to keep kids and staff safe, might not be necessary in another part of the state. One particular Senator kept arguing that masks are a political statement. I found that to be very disconcerting. This means surgeons should not be required to wear masks. Perhaps girls should not be forced to wear shirts. Why should kids have to wear shoes? Shouldn’t local jurisdictions have the authority to establish dress codes? This bill is flawed and needs to be changed. Do not strip local school boards their authority. Thank you for your consideration, Cheryl Sutphin

Last Name: Schmeltzer Locality: Arlington

Please keep masks in schools.

Last Name: Ekiert Locality: Midlothian

I oppose SB739. It is incredibly irresponsible and shortsighted to enact a law forever preventing mask requirements in schools after what we have learned as a global community living through COVID-19.

Last Name: Jackson Locality: Suffolk

As a parent in Suffolk, I request that SB 739 not be passed or at the very least delayed until the end of the school year. At the height of the Delta/Omicron surges, more than 1500 students where out on quarantine in my children's school district. Last year we even had a sweet young girl die from Coronavirus while at school. My daugher's have also lost one of their middle school teachers to COVID. It is for this reason that we must remain vigilant and give local school divisions the mitigations measures they need to keep my children and their teachers safe at school which includes universal masking.

Last Name: Ort Locality: Williamsburg

Vote Yes to SB739 Who is being protected by wearing a mask? Certainly NOT the children who rarely get sick if they do get Covid & then primarily because there are underlying health conditions. Do we wear masks to avoid getting the flu? Do we close down classrooms & go virtual every time a teacher catches a cold or gets the flu? NO! We now know, from too long withheld science, that masks provide no value in stopping transmission. And we also know that "0" Covid cases is an impossibility & that vaccinated & boosted adults still contract Covid. Doubt that if you must, but what has become patently obvious, is that a child's emotional, intellectual, psychological & social development is being forever altered. This is a tragedy & a needless one. Vote Yes to SB739. As so many like to comment: do it for the children. SB739 MUST be passed!

Last Name: Catherine martin Locality: Fairfax County

I strongly recommend not adopting SB739. To begin, evidence based research must dictate health decisions. Presently, there are no published studies documenting the effects of protection afforded to those wearing N95 or KN 95 masks when exposed in school settings with those unmasked. We do not know whether a person wearing a mask is protected from the unmasked. However, there is a plethora of evidence indicating that universal masking protects everyone. Next, we must define truth, which is documented by evidence based literature. Political opinions or peer pressure can not override science. Third, similar to the draft, masking is civic duty one performs to protect others. We sign up for the draft, and wear a mask to protect our community. There are many older veterans for which this virus is lethal. Schools become vectors of transmission, leading to isolation for our elders, people with disabilities, and medically fragile. Older veteran fought for our freedoms, yet those unmasked take away their freedom because the unmasked are more likely to spread COVID. This is not right. Virginia is better than this. Fourth, we need to instill values of service and a greater good than ourselves in our youth. We wear masks to protect our community, which includes grandparents, cancer patients, people with disabilities, and the medically fragile. Service is honorable, and it’s about time we make it a priority. Fifth, policy decisions made far from local jurisdictions are unresponsive to local constituencies and conditions. A small rural town has different needs and conditions than a large urban county. Our state is not one size fits all. We need local control. Finally, the passage of this law threatens homeland security. The danger of passing this law for COVID sets up Virginia as a prime target for bioterrorism. What happens when a more lethal virus is unleashed on the public? Our children, teachers, and parents will be the first to die. We can not pass a law that leaves our state’s citizens vulnerable to attack.

Last Name: Beyer Locality: James City County

I would just like point out that my daughter, who is 6 years old, is one of the many children getting caught in the rut of “COVID learning.” It is a true shame that some people don’t value our little ones enough to put politics and opinions aside for the sake of their future. Thankfully, I have a son who is beyond his grade level of learning and this hasn’t effected him as much. My daughter hasn’t had a “real” day of public school, ever. My third grader’s last normal school year was kindergarten! I urge you to support the amendment to SB 739 to make masks optional in schools. It has long since been proven that cloth masks are not protecting anyone from a virus and are no more effective than not wearing a mask. Thank you for standing up for our kids and giving them their childhood back!

Last Name: Garrison Locality: Rockingham

We can not allow schools to close or masks to continue. It has been detrimental for many kids.

Last Name: Roggenkamp Locality: Town of Vienna, Fairfax County

I am opposed to this bill, which would take away the right to enforce discipline and public health measures from our school officials. No other rule in schools is subject to a parent's unilateral waiver. Parents cannot force schools to allow their children to hit other children, run naked through the hallways, walk out of class, ignore their homework or school assignments, etc. Schools enforce rules in class every single day. Why is masking different? Because it has become a political issue for a minority that rejects science and public health measures. School boards, school divisions, school officials and other state and local officials should be allowed to follow public health guidelines created by experts and to require students to follow those public health guidelines - including requiring students to wear masks in accordance with public health guidelines - instead of allowing parents and students to ignore the rules at their whim. This bill teaches children that they can ignore the rules of their school whenever they want. If this bill passes, why not pass more bills allowing parents to exempt their students from homework and tests? Why not pass more bills allowing parents to exempt their students from any school rule whatsoever? Why deny our children those freedoms? Why single out masks? Because masks have become a political issue. But public health should never be politicized. Masks protect children and adults with comorbidities and compromised immune systems from the deadly respiratory pandemic that is currently circulating in our community. But one-sided masking is not nearly as effective as universal masking. This bill would force children and adults at higher risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19 to make a horrible choice: leave school, or take a higher risk of exposure to a disease that could be deadly or could leave them with lasting health consequences. The inconvenience of wearing a mask is minor; the risk of severe health consequences and death is major. School districts and school officials should be allowed to require all students to follow public health guidelines, including masking, to protect the most vulnerable among us. The anti-mask proponents of this bill claim that it is about freedom. But nobody has the freedom to harm another person. You should not have the freedom to infect someone else with a potentially deadly respiratory illness merely because you don't want to live with the minor inconvenience of wearing a mask. And students should not have the freedom to ignore their school's rules. We should not teach our children that they have the freedom to ignore the rules whenever they feel like it. Governor Youngkin's campaign said that he would leave policy decisions about mask requirements to individual school districts. If this bill passes, a veto by Governor Youngkin would be the honest thing to do.

Last Name: Handley Locality: Newport News

I just submitted these comments — “Stripping duly-elected school boards of their authority to make a decision on universal masking in their districts takes away local control and puts immunocompromised students, teachers, staff, and families at great risk, all just to score cheap political points. Here in Newport News, many parents and school staff signed petitions and spoke before our school board in support of masking during a deadly pandemic, and our school board heard our voices and acted accordingly. Parents aren’t a monolith, many of us in Virginia’s cities support research-based CDC mitigation strategies like universal masking. Wearing a mask benefits others more than ourselves, which is why the CDC still recommends universal masking in high-traffic environments like schools and medical facilities. Immunocompromised people will die at higher rates in Virginia because of this law. And parents in Virginia’s big cities that prefer masking — which makes up most of the population centers of VA — will remember this in 2023. This is Virginia, not Alabama. Public health decisions should be about keeping vulnerable Virginians safe, not scoring cheap political points in a culture war cynically designed to destabilize the public education system. By the way, in New Jersey, school boards still retain the right to universally mask if they choose, even after their governor’s executive order. This allows big cities where many citizens support masking to protect students and staff by keeping evidence-based universal masking in schools. Taking away local control will lead to a lot of angry voters in 2023. Read the room. Listen to ALL parents not just those in conservative areas, and allow democratically elected school boards to do their jobs to serve their constituents, who they know a lot better than state politicians looking for a political ‘win’ at the cost of immunocompromised students, teachers, and families.”

Last Name: Bisbee Locality: Arlington

Please allow local jurisdictions to decide on masking requirements based on their community data. Locally, residents vote for their school board members and trust them to make decisions for the welfare of our school district. These individuals understand the needs of our students, educators, and community at large. I am an elementary school counselor. I teach in multiple classrooms each week, including preschoolers and kindergarteners who are not vaccinated yet. I work at two schools so I have lots of exposures daily. I have health conditions that put me at high risk of COVID complications. I started school counseling in 2000 and love my profession and both of my school communities. I’m not old enough to retire. If my district takes away masking requirements while our community COVID rates are high, I would be faced with the decision to quit my job. I signed my contract for this year knowing that masks would be required. If that changes, I have to choose between being at severe health risk and quitting my job. If I break my contract, I would be blackballed, which would essentially end my career. When I make this decision, I have to also think about the other people in my home. My husband also has health risks and would be at greater risk of COVID complications. My mother-in-law is 81 and lives with us. I also have to protect her. If masking goes away in my schools, I would be at risk of bringing home COVID to both of them. I have numerous colleagues who are faced with similar decisions. We all are acutely aware of the teacher shortage. We are on the frontlines and covering for each other daily as we are so short staffed. If we force educators to decide between their health and their jobs, many more will leave the field and the teacher shortage crisis will become more acute. My son is 13 and has gotten used to wearing a mask to school. He understands that masking is a simple act we can do to protect others. Likewise, my students wear their masks without complaints. There are so many families who have similar family concerns as my own family. Some of my colleagues are immunocompromised. Others are organ recipients. Some of my students have disabilities that put them at greater risk from COVID infections. Some students have immunocompromised parents or care for elderly family members like my family does. To lift masking requirements statewide regardless of local transmission level is irresponsible. Please let local communities make their own decisions for masking based on the metrics and needs of their communities. There are numerous studies that show masking at school reduces COVID transmission. Please research this and let science guide us. Thank you.

Last Name: Krisik Locality: Williamsburg


Last Name: Kumpe Locality: Henrico

As a parent of two children in Henrico County Schools, I respectfully ask that SB739 be rejected regardless of your stance on the masking debates. School boards are charged with the responsibility to establish rules and procedures intended to keep our students safe, learning, and in school. Parents have the right to vote for their school board member, speak at school board meetings, and speak out on social media and in public spaces in protest. When we (parents) participate in something as important as public education, we give up some of our rights at the door of the school building that our tax dollars fund. This is true whether we are talking about public health issues, dress codes, or weapons in schools. Parents do not and should not have the right to choose whether or not to send their child to school with a weapon or to allow shirts with violent messaging. Parents should not have the right to determine whether or not their child wears a mask IF local school boards have determined they are critical to keep the school doors open, students in seats, and teachers and staff healthy and available to teach all children. Passing this bill opens Pandora’s box on all sorts of “parental rights” issues that threaten to distract from the most important job of educating our children. Parents have many ways to be involved in and champion their children’s education, starting with conversations at the school level and voicing any concerns with the elected school board. This bill will not advance the quality of education in Virginia. Instead, it will tie the hands of schools and educators who are doing everything that they can to educate and protect the safety of Virginia’s students. I respectfully ask that you reject this bill.

Last Name: Levett Locality: Arlington

I am writing to oppose SB739. This rushed effort to remove Virginia School boards ability to respond to new variants of the Coronavirus through enacting local mask mandates in public schools is ill thought, anti-science, and hugely dangerous for an uncertain future. Under SB 1303, a bi-partisan bill that passed last year with overwhelming support, Virginia public schools have been open and safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools accomplished this by following CDC guidance, as they are required to do by this law. I am very concerned that SB739 would remove critical parts of SB 1303: The requirement that schools follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practicable; The direction to School Boards to set their own parameters for the provision of in-person instruction; The allowance for schools to temporarily shift to virtual instruction when Covid cases are at a high level; The option to offer a virtual learning program to students who elect it; Allowing teachers to teach virtually during isolation, quarantine or as an ADA accommodation, and have that count as in-person instruction. My child is enrolled in public school in Arlington County, Virginia. Schools need universal masking in order to stay open. I am concerned removing this protection will prevent schools taking measures to protect our children in the event of future Coronavirus variants with increasing virulence like Delta and Omicron. School Boards must retain the authority that they currently have under SB 1303 to protect all students, teachers, staff and families, including those who are more vulnerable to Covid-19. Please add back the requirement that school divisions follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practicable. Thank you,

Last Name: McGrath Locality: Newport News

Stripping duly-elected school boards of their authority to make a decision on universal masking in their districts takes away local control and puts immunocompromised students, teachers, staff, and families at great risk, all just to score cheap political points. Here in Newport News, many parents and school staff signed petitions and spoke before our school board in support of masking during a deadly pandemic, and our school board heard our voices and acted accordingly. Parents aren’t a monolith, many of us in Virginia’s cities support research-based CDC mitigation strategies like universal masking. Wearing a mask benefits others more than ourselves, which is why the CDC still recommends universal masking in high-traffic environments like schools and medical facilities. Immunocompromised people will die at higher rates in Virginia because of this law. And parents in Virginia’s big cities that prefer masking — which makes up most of the population centers of VA — will remember this in 2023. This is Virginia, not Alabama. Public health decisions should be about keeping vulnerable Virginians safe, not scoring cheap political points in a culture war cynically designed to destabilize the public education system. By the way, in New Jersey, school boards still retain the right to universally mask if they choose, even after their governor’s executive order. This allows big cities where many citizens support masking to protect students and staff by keeping evidence-based universal masking in schools. Taking away local control will lead to a lot of angry voters in 2023. Read the room. Listen to ALL parents not just those in conservative areas, and allow democratically elected school boards to do their jobs to serve their constituents, who they know a lot better than state politicians looking for a political ‘win’ at the cost of immunocompromised students, teachers, and families.

Last Name: Cozell Locality: Fairfax

Good afternoon, I am a Virginia resident, just celebrated my first year of being a Virginia homeowner, and am a Virginia public school teacher, specifically, an elementary special educator. I have experienced the impact of the pandemic acutely, as an immunocomprised educator committed to supporting students most in need of our school services, and to whom we have a legal obligation to provide a free and appropriate public education. While the messaging around masking from the federal level has been flawed, it has evolved with the science that has been developing in real time for the past three years. We now know that Covid-19 is an airborne virus, and the most effective mitigation to limit it's spread, it's ability to infect individuals of all ages, is to wear well-fitting masks, improve ventilation, and social distance as possible. There are a lot of factors that are out of everyone's control when living through a global pandemic, a trauma that we were not prepared for nor have the systems in place to respond at the drop of a hat. But that is what has needed to be done, and that's what as an educator, I have continuously met that expectation daily to meet the needs of my students, families, and school community in the face of the same pandemic. Removing the power of school boards to enact mask mandates removes the ability for school districts to follow the science and make decisions for their school community based upon current data. It seeks to undermine a school district's legal authority, and in the guise of reducing local government overreach, represents state government overreach. To allow the voices of the few to endanger the many, in direct defiance of public health expert guidance is irresponsible and against the Virginian constitution, in which it is decreed in Article 1, Section 3 "That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security of the people, nation, or community; of all the various modes and forms of government, that is best which is capable of producing the greatest degree of happiness and safety [...]." The greatest degree of safety within a pandemic is for local agencies to be able to follow the ever evolving science of public health and epidemiology to respond to a public health crisis. It should allow for districts to work independently and in concert when possible to reduce geographic spread (e.g. Northern Virginia), and to determine appropriate measures based upon their constituent population and metrics. Removing this power from school boards makes myself and my students less safe. The kids are alright, from Pre-K to 5th grade our students wear masks without complaint. They are happy to be in school, and we are grateful to be able to provide in person instruction. Without masks, which are the first and last defense against this airborne virus, in person instruction would not be viable. There are simply not enough staff or subs to continue that offering, which is now mandated by Virginia law. The legislature has a duty to promote safety for its constituents, and should not act in any way to deter the ability of local governments and their agencies to maintain said safety. I want the pandemic to end, and to stop wearing a mask. But this measure will not hasten the end , but most likely prolong it. My students and I deserve calm, measured, and evidence based legislation to promote safety and education. Keep us safe and learning. Thank you.

Last Name: On Organization: Public Trust Locality: Falls Church

I oppose this bill, safety issues and policies have never been optional or decided on by parents. Universal masking in schools are a safety issue. I see a lot of people saying that masks are harmful to children, yet they have been very successfully used in Asian countries for years. Please stop using students as your political pawns.

Last Name: Wilen Organization: Community Locality: Spotsylvania

Good day esteemed community members, I am writing to you on behalf of our communities, especially the children, teachers, and school workers who have weaker immune systems. Also on behalf of those who live in homes made up of family members from different age groups (great grandparents. grandparents, parent, children, etc.) and those living with others who have weakened immune systems. The risk of passing COVID on to others is very high, as we all know, as it is airborne. The risk rises indoors. The law states that no schools can place hurdles for a child to attend school. Lifting the school mask policy, at this time, will place these members of our community at greater risk and thus placing hurdles for safe school attendance. I feel it is important that you know a few things: I do understand the COVID numbers are declining, and that is really good news. It’s been a long 2 years and seeing improvements is great. I also do not want those who work/attend school to have to wear masks forever. I would like us to weigh the risks we could be placing ourselves in by lifting the use of masks in school too early. My request is that you please wait to see what the numbers look like the next 4 - 6 weeks, and then make a decision. Making a decision then would be backed by a better numbers trend, and would not be a rushed move, as it feels it is now. Thank you so much for your time.

Last Name: Chang Locality: Fairfax County

I write as a public health professional, please do not overturn local school board authority to be able to require masks in schools. Covid-19 is a public health issue, not an individual one, we must take a multi-layered approach in order to mitigate cases as much as possible during times of high community transmission, so that schools and businesses can stay open safely and to alleviate stress on hospitals. It is well known that children can easily spread Covid-19, and that even mild cases can cause long term health issues. There are multiple studies showing that mask in schools significantly help. Unfortunately, I’ve seen multiple people spreading misinformation that they do not, amongst other lies. Do not allow misinformation to guide your votes, it is unethical to spurn safety measures during times of high community transmission of serious illnesses.

Last Name: Manicki Locality: Arlington

Please do not support this atrocious and dangerous bill.

Last Name: Peto Locality: James city co

I support allowing the children to unmask if they want and in accordance with the Governor. I also hope to see school agent back to pencils and paper as much as possible starting now.

Last Name: Beyer Locality: Williamsburg

I support this. Children should not wear masks and should be taught in person!

Last Name: Clausen Locality: Roanoke City

Please require masks in school. It is a public health issue not a personal rights issue. Let’s at the very least teach our children to do the right thing and be good citizens.

Last Name: Martin Locality: Chesterfield

I oppose SB739

Last Name: Walker Locality: Chester

I oppose SB739

Last Name: Buzby Locality: Arlington

I'm the parent of 3 (fully vaccinated/boosted) children. The oldest has asthma and wears a mask consistently. The middle child has Trisomy21 and a heart condition, which makes her more susceptible to illness, and COVID is particularly harsh for those with T21. She also wears a mask but her ability to consistently ensure it is on correctly is limited. My youngest has autism, asthma, and sensory issues and is unable to wear a mask correctly, or for very long. We endeavor to have him wear it as much as possible, but he has a mask exemption. Because of these conditions, especially the disabilities that make effective mask compliance difficult or impossible, it's vital that those who can, do. We rely on others who are able to wear their masks at school to do so in order to keep my children, as well as themselves, safe and healthy.

Last Name: Scrofani Locality: Williamsburg

The segregation and humiliation put on these children is a tragic representation of what is going on in our school systems. The audacity of Superintendent Herron to instruct teachers and administrators to isolate a child, disrespect their parent’s wishes, and then put them in front of a computer instead of in-person learning, is abuse. A Superintendent should never have the power over a parent and this situation has demonstrated why they shouldn’t have that power…because they abuse it. These actions were discriminatory and with my resounding “yes” in support for this bill, I would also like disciplinary actions for School Board Members and Superintendents who chose to segregate students.

Last Name: Knapp Locality: FAIRFAX

I strongly oppose SB739 and urge the members of our legislature to reject this amendment. This bill is short sighted, irresponsible, shows an upsetting disrespect for the some most vulnerable students (and staff) in our schools, and a disregard for the possible need to implement this effective safety measure in the future. Right now we are facing threats from the SARS- CoV-2, but to think that other viruses, even other coronaviruses, cannot pose future epidemic or pandemic risks is naive. This bill states “​​each school board shall offer in-person instruction to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public elementary and secondary school for at least the minimum number of required annual instructional hours and to each student enrolled in the local school division in a public school-based early childhood care and education program for the entirety of the instructional time provided pursuant to such program.”, but allowing “the parent of any child enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school, or in any school-based early childhood care and education program, may elect for such child to not wear a mask while on school property.” seems to violate federal ADA laws in place to make sure that all students, REGARDLESS OF DISABILITY be offered SAFE in-person instruction and that all staff, REGARDLESS OF DISABILITY , have a SAFE workplace environment. The “accommodation” of mask wearing is reasonable. Additionally, the Commonwealth of Virginia encompasses a large geographic area wherein conditions regarding the prevalence of a virus and its transmission rates can vary greatly. Localities across the commonwealth should be able to work on a local level to determine and implement the best strategies to keep their schools and communities safe. This issue extends beyond just the walls of school buildings and affects the whole community. Viruses aren’t bound by the schoolhouse walls, and when students and staff spend five to six (and sometimes more inclusive of extra-curricular activities) in close proximity to each other, not taking every precaution to mitigate possible virus spread is irresponsible. Finally, and perhaps most obviously, it is my understanding that current Virginia statutes require that school divisions follow the current CDC guidelines, which currently support masks as both effective and practicable. If, and when, that guidance changes, local school boards and communities should be the ones to make the decisions about what is right for their members at any particular time. They need the flexibility to make these decisions and attempting to remove that shows an overreaching attempt at control and a disregard for their competence to do so.

Last Name: Headrick Organization: Smart Restart APS Locality: Arlington, VA

I am writing as a parent of two students, and a school safety advocate, to say I am appalled that you would remove local control from critical safety decisions, such as the need to utilize UNIVERSAL MASKING during intense COVID-19 surges. To date, Virginia has had one of the lowest child infection rates in the USA, according to American Academy of Pediatrics (See page 7: That lower rate is because our state imposed universal school masking, following CDC guidance, in Nov. 2020. Most states have not had this! We should be applauding Virginians, but instead, you guys are trashing this accomplishment. The CDC has highlighted dozens of studies on efficacy of masks, including one that showed that even three-layer cloth masks remove 72% of exhaled aerosol particles. In Arlington County, our schools have poor ventilation. One third do not meet code for fresh air in rooms, per engineering analysis. The worst rooms do not provide enough fresh air for >7 occupants. (A typical room has >28 people.) None of our schools have other ventilation or filtration available to them that can remove nearly three quarters of particles from the air, like universal masking can do. Please FIX this bill to restore local control on masking issues. Masking has been important to my children staying COVID-free over the past two years. Based on reading other parents social media feeds, I am personally greatly concerned that those who will unmask are also those who are honestly most likely to bring COVID into the classroom — those whose parents actually brag about sending their kids to school sick, or who have been caught LYING about their kids' COVID positive status. I do not understand how children with disabilities, or with caregivers who are immunocompromised, are protected by this bill. If 90% of parents in an area vote in school board members who APPROVE of a policy, why is the legislature negating local control of such decisions? Especially during surges? WHEN there is a new variant, you will have removed local ability to react quickly. The deaths and more likely, the long-term disabled kids or parents, will be on you. It also is confusing to parents to have to make a "choice" every day what to do. Giving local boards control to clearly define rules during surges makes it easy for people to know what is expected and to act collectively for the greater good. A recent study by the University of Michigan founds schools with "masks optional" policies had 62% MORE COVID-19 cases. ( Please amend the final bill to restore local control.

Last Name: Holton Locality: Henrico

Children between the ages of 0-17 are BY FAR the safest age group at risk of harm/death from Covid. According to the CDC, less than 750 children in that age have died since 2020, compared to almost 70,000 that have died from other causes. There are far greater concerns of this age group and the world is becoming Covid-Blind - missing more important issues in fear of Covid. I see children riding bikes with a face mask - but no helmet! What are we teaching them about risk analysis?! Vaccinations only help those who are vaccinated, it does not help those around the vaccinated individual. The fears of less healthy adults who are vaccinated, boosted and free to wear whatever or however many masks they like is being projected on to children. These children are not vectors of this virus, nor should they be made to feel that they are endangering others by simply wanting to breathe unencumbered. Teachers need to stop using our children as their bullet proof vests. Let our children breathe!

Last Name: Showker Locality: ROCKINGHAM

Virus particles are Microparticles. Aerosol. Masks (especially worn by non medical subjects-KIDS) do not offer effective protection against aerosol particles as noted by Dr. Petty and multiple studies worldwide. "Despite clear evidence that face masks act to protect the theatre staff from macroscopic facial contamination, there are studies to suggest that they fail to protect surgeons from potentially hazardous sub-micrometre contaminants.21 This corresponds roughly to the size range of infectious bacteria while viruses are even smaller. Therefore, the protection that masks confer in the form of macroscopic facial contamination may not necessarily extend towards any microscopic infectious agents present within that contamination." The final arbiter of mask effectiveness are the industrial hygienists who provide the industry standards for pathogens and contaminants regarding masks. Dr. Stephen Petty is perhaps the leading authority in the U.S. on mask efficacy. Stephen's credibility all starts with his unique combination of credentials as a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Certified Safety Professional (CSP), and Professional Engineer (PE). Stephen has also published a book on Forensic Engineering and currently holds 9 U.S. Patents. Petty has been speaking to groups throughout the country and testified on May 17, 2021 that resulted in the mask mandate being lifted in the State of Kentucky among his many public appearances Stephen breaks down the definition of PPE (personal protective equipment) and masks. He also discusses proper use, fitting, and effectiveness of both. Stephen Petty, PE, CIH, CSP, host of the Petty Podcast and owner of EES Group in Pompano Beach - Florida, applies his knowledge as an engineer and health & safety expert to breakdown recent events. Instagram - Twitter - EES Group Inc. - Petty Podcasts YouTube Channel -

Last Name: Taylor Locality: Henrico

I’m speaking today as a parent who happens to be a substitute teacher. Listening to the floor during the senate and house discussions on this, I have been very disappointed by the ableist thinking I’ve heard on display. More than once, I have heard someone speak out against the bill, saying; “My child does not have a problem wearing masks. It’s not a big deal to them” Let’s reflect on how that approach looks when it comes to other situations: My child does not have a problem getting up those stairs. I don’t know why it’s a big deal. My child does not have dyslexia, reading is not hard. My child does not read lips while decoding speech – no one I know does. My child does not need a teacher to see that he hasn’t smiled in 6 months. He is not suffering from depression. My child does not need to see just ONE trusted adult face smile at him; because he sees smiles at home. Let’s talk about the hypocrisy of people against parental choice taking off masks for pictures, or telling people with masks on to “smile” for the camera (which happened during the Henrico County School board meeting yesterday during clerk appreciation time). Why do we ask people to smile? Does it make them feel happy? Does it give them a sense of belonging? Does it show their best face? The answer to those questions is Yes – that is why we are all familiar with sayings such as “turn that frown upside down,” and “Why the long face?” Seeing facial expressions is tantamount to mental health. For 2 years, children who are hurting have not had the benefit of people being able to SEE that they are hurting. Children who read lips as a part of making sense of communication have not had those cues available to them. Children who are learning English or foreign languages have not had the benefit of seeing how sounds are formed with the mouth. It is time to recognize that there ARE children who are hurt by mandatory mask mandates in school – and allow parents to determine what their child needs for THEIR well being. Yesterday, Henrico County Public Schools ceded authority to make decisions regarding masking to their superintendent - abdicating themselves of the responsibility. This decision exemplified the importance of NOT keeping this responsibilities out of the hands of parents.

Last Name: Markey Locality: Loudoun County, VA

I FULLY SUPPORT this bill. The science is in on the efficacy of masks. The amount of damage that these masks have done for our children in school is immeasurable. I personally know many parents that are dealing with depression and suicide in kids that never had these issues. The social impact of these kids having to cover their faces is stunning. The youngest kids are some of the most impacted, with kids struggling to read and stay on the scholastic track of their peers from just 2 years ago. If we want to talk about science, we cannot ignore the scholastic impacts of masks and these lockdowns. The Loudoun County school board has done so much damage and has been grossly negligent with the handling of sexual assaults and misleading and mis-appropriating school funds. We elected Governor Youngkin for a reason in Virginia. We need to take back control from these ideological, virtue signaling hypocrites we call the "Loudoun County school board" and their illustrious leader Scott Ziegler (which is even more corrupt, since he reports to THEM). Thank you for looking out for our children and putting parents back in the drivers seat of our children's education. Thank you for your quick and decisive actions on these matters.

Last Name: Sattva Organization: Rockingham County Education Association Locality: Rockingham

This Bill contradicts the General Duty Clause of 29 CFR-1910 General Industry. It is unethical, and its passage will only create more chaos. It is the chaos of watching adults in conflict that hurts children. Show some inkling of integrity and vote it down.

Last Name: Virginia Ranck Locality: Loudoun

I FULLY SUPPORT this bill. The science is in on the efficacy of masks. The amount of damage that these masks have done for our children in school is immeasurable. I personally know many parents that are dealing with depression and suicide in kids that never had these issues. The social impact of these kids having to cover their faces is stunning. The youngest kids are some of the most impacted, with kids struggling to read and stay on the scholastic track of their peers from just 2 years ago. If we want to talk about science, we cannot ignore the scholastic impacts of masks and these lockdowns. The Loudoun County school board has done so much damage and has been grossly negligent with the handling of sexual assaults and misleading and mis-appropriating school funds. We elected Governor Youngkin for a reason in Virginia. We need to take back control from these ideological, virtue signaling hypocrites we call the Loudoun County school board and their leader Scott Ziegler. Thank you for looking out for our children and putting parents back in the drivers seat of our children's education. Thank you for your quick and decisive actions on these matters.

Last Name: Jackson Locality: James City County/Williamsburg

I fully support this bill to remove masks off children. No one else is forced to wear a mask- and we know that they do not work. The CDC is the not the law for school boards to follow. School boards should also not try to enforce this. Cloth masks don’t work. Remove the masks off our children!

Last Name: Harrington Locality: Boyce

While I am all for a science-backed process to evaluate the need for universal masking in schools, a rush to remove universal masking and to prevent any future universal masking laws or policy is shortsighted. Two years ago, we were faced with an unprecedented pandemic situation that upended our lives in a matter of days. We all had to adapt quickly to protect public health and ensure our medical system did not become overwhelmed. If we had a law such as the one proposed, a necessary school-based mitigation would not be an option. The only option might be closing schools, which has proven to place great strain on families, communities, and our economy. Although COVID-19 cases are waning right now, we may experience another surge if we do not make smart choices about public health. We witnessed that scenario last year with the delta wave. I was one of the many people who were more than happy to put away my mask and have my children stop wearing masks when infections subsided during the summer of 2021. When our area reached substantial masking, we resumed wearing masks in alignment with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Also, it has come to my attention that our new health commissioner, Dr. Colin Greene, has only very recently changed his stance on universal masking in schools to align with the new executive administration. As of December 14, 2021, Greene still stood behind masking in K-12 schools. "If you wanted to ask an opinion right now," he told the Rappahannock County School Board, "I would love to see universal masking." He called dropping masks "risky because it may result in significant spread outside the school." He also pledged to present his insight on masking to the new administration. A month later, as acting state health commissioner, Greene's opinion on school masking suddenly changed, for the first time since the start of the pandemic. On day one of his administration the new Governor, with Greene's backing, issued Executive Order #2, preventing any school district in Virginia from implementing a universal mask policy. Greene has admitted that he does not have a scientific basis for his shift in thinking, relying only on the "observational data" that cases surged initially in urban areas of the state. Although those areas have a high population density, he suggested that the trend indicated that masks were no longer effective. However, in discussing omicron at a Winchester City Council meeting, just four days before EO was issued Greene said, "… this [Omicron variant] is an incredibly contagious condition and it's good we're all masked here tonight." Why did he say that? He knows masks work. The unfortunate truth is that a proven public health strategy has become very divisive. There is no reason to remove a proven tool from our public health toolkit because it has become unpopular in some circles. Unpopular does not mean unnecessary. Please make the right choice for Virginia. Thank you.

Last Name: Peto Locality: Williiamsburg

Please follow real science and current numbers. Unmask our children or allow a parent to decide. Get off the computers- we are not going virtual and get back to traditional teaching. Please. It’s time.

Last Name: Neviaser Locality: Glen Allen

I am writing to say that I fully support removing the mask mandate in schools! It’s time to unmask our poor children. Thank you!

Last Name: Stumbaugh Locality: Lovettsville

Immeasurable damage is being inflicted on children due to masking in schools. School systems across our country have been enjoying in-person, unmasked learning since the fall of 2020. There is no evidence that these schools have experienced any uptick in Covid cases out of sync with their communities. The cherry picking of flawed data by federal players is irresponsible and harmful. Please let our state be brave enough to go against this harmful narrative and actually protect our children. Unmask these kids!

Last Name: Brenner Locality: Williamsburg

Please support SB739 !

Last Name: Klose Locality: Henrico County

Henrico County Public Schools continues to willfully ignore the complaints from parents about masking. In fact, they never considered their constituents as a whole in the first place. No survey was ever sent out to re-assess the public’s opinion on masking. This county has been disrespectful of differing views on masking. When students chose not to wear a mask, they started suspending students. Deep Run High School’s principal, Dr. Fellows, even compared not wearing a mask to carrying a gun into school. This demonstrates how delusional these teachers are, and it it clear the school board is siding with these teachers that have no grounding in reality or science. The school board lives their lives as if the pandemic just started. They have consistently sided with delusion teachers union members. As Olga Khazan said, “If you’re vaccinated, boosted, and wearing an N95, you’re protected—no matter what others are doing.” One-way masking works! I encourage teachers to wear an N95 to protect themselves if they are high risk or fearful of the virus. It is time that teachers and school board members stop projecting their fears on children. Let parents and students assess their risk and choose whether or not to wear a mask or vaccinate. Let kids be kids!

Last Name: Jordan Locality: Williamsburg

Masks should be optional

Last Name: Morrison Locality: Hanover

Please commit to removing masks from our children per parent choice. There is NO scientific evidence to support the use of masks. It is interfering with educational development especially in the elementary school children with reading, language, and verbalization skills. There has been medical research that has shown the masks can actually increase disease in children due to unclean masks, constant manipulating of masks, and breathing in stale air. Children are least likely effected by this man made disease and need to be able to be children again! Thank you.

Last Name: Klose Locality: Glen Allen

I support the bill that gives parents the choice regarding masks in public schools. Health decisions should be decided by parents and legal guardians of a child. I am grateful for school localities taking measures to protect our children but they should be guidelines and not mandates. Parents must be given the freedom to make health decisions and this includes wearing masks.

Last Name: Wildenger Locality: Chesterfield County

Parents should have the decision as to whether they want their child to be masked. It should be a choice.

Last Name: Thompson Locality: Chesapeake

I oppose this bill that would prevent school districts from taking appropriate safety measures in future emergency health situations. I believe such decisions should be left to the individual school districts. And under no reasonable circumstances should a law be enacted that would permanently and unilaterally tie the hands of local school districts. School districts should be permitted to establish mask mandates or go virtual in the event that it becomes necessary. If this law had been in effect in 2020, we would have a lot more deceased children and their family members in Virginia because school districts would not have been allowed to react appropriately to keep our kids safe.

Last Name: Sullivan Organization: Loudoun Education Association Locality: Ashburn

Safeguards & mitigation strategies have been in place to help in-person continue throughout this school year. Is that not the goal of us all here? Vote no on senate bill 739 Let’s consider this Do we want principals to make specific instructional plans for individual students based on an assessment they did not conduct? I think we can all say NO to that. How about this? Do we want the state making critical decisions that impact the health & safety of individual districts—during a pandemic with ever changing challenges at varying levels throughout VA? NO. Let’s all agree on that. Vote no on senate bill 739.

Last Name: Faye Locality: Richmond

I urge you not to take away the authority of elected school boards in making decisions that affect their localities. Why should the state dictate what local school boards can do to protect the children and staff in their schools? This is not just about masks it is bigger than that. What if I think my child should be able to wear a profane shirt to school and not doing so infringes on my parent rights? Slippery slope. This bill is extremely short sighted and will affect our ability to respond to the next pandemic. It will adversely affect children who are immunocompromised and their ability to get a free and appropriate education. Please do not pass this bill as it currently stands. There will come a time when we can put away the masks and then bring them back if another more deadly variant or pandemic arises. Let’s allow school boards to make the decisions for their schools as we elected them to do.

Last Name: Richard Locality: Fairfax County

I am a Fairfax Co resident with loved ones who are teachers/parents in FCPS. I am also an FCPS grad myself. It has been widely shown and verified by numerous scientific studies that masking drastically reduces the spread of COVID , since it is primarily spread by respiratory droplets in the air. Students, teachers and staff in areas where community spread is high (such as in more population dense areas, for example) ,should have the right to enact mask mandates in order to keep schools open and their communities safe. If we want in person instruction to continue , and keep teacher and student absences low, and as much consistency in instruction as possible, spread of the virus needs to be mitigated by common sense safety measures which include mask wearing. Even if someone is asymptomatic, they can pass it on to a family member , friend or loved one. That is part of what makes mask wearing in these spaces so crucial. “Personal freedom” does NOT include the right to infect others . What we do individually during a major health crisis such as this, effects what happens to the community collectively. I realize that some students with special needs are not in a position to mask all the time, particularly during IEP evaluations or working with SLPs, but those sessions can and should be in a separate classroom at a separate time without other students or staff present. I also think school systems enacting mask mandates should provide students who arrive without a mask with a surgical or N 95 mask so they can attend classes with their peers if possible. To summarize, I know we would all like the pandemic to end and all these safety measures to not be needed in our day to day lives. The only way to ensure our hospitalization and death rates reduce enough for this to be endemic / “go back to normal” is to reduce spread in crowded indoor spaces like schools by using proven effective safety measures like masking. Finally, If we set “benchmark “ goals of reduced spread and hospitalization % , with the consultation and guidance of scientists/disease experts, we can hopefully get to a point where this will no longer be necessary, but until that time, this is the best way to ensure our schools remain open and a safe place to learn. Thank you for your time and consideration . I hope you will do right by the kids, teachers and families in our state and ensure we can keep our local communities safe.

Last Name: Nickola` Locality: Lovettsville VA

I FULLY SUPPORT this bill. The science is in on the efficacy of masks. The amount of damage that these masks have done for our children in school is immeasurable. I personally know many parents that are dealing with depression and suicide in kids that never had these issues. The social impact of these kids having to cover their faces is stunning. The youngest kids are some of the most impacted, with kids struggling to read and stay on the scholastic track of their peers from just 2 years ago. If we want to talk about science, we cannot ignore the scholastic impacts of masks and these lockdowns. The Loudoun County school board has done so much damage and has been grossly negligent with the handling of sexual assaults and misleading and mis-appropriating school funds. We elected Governor Youngkin for a reason in Virginia. We need to take back control from these ideological, virtue signaling hypocrites we call the Loudoun County school board and their leader Scott Ziegler. Thank you for looking out for our children and putting parents back in the drivers seat of our children's education. Thank you for your quick and decisive actions on these matters.

Last Name: Dupuis Locality: Glen Allen

I am so hopeful of today’s vote and the passage of SB739. I pray that we are mask free on Monday! My daughter has respected Henrico and school administrators and kept her mask on in school. Most children are absolutely maskless in many setting after school and on weekends. I have appreciated all of your availability and seen and heard you in/on many formats. Susan DuPuis

Last Name: Ligon Locality: Henrico

Masking our children has caused irrevocable damage in every aspect of learning. If you can’t see this, you are either not paying attention or refuse to acknowledge it.

Last Name: Farmer Locality: Henrico

Choose choice

Last Name: Smith Organization: Newport News Public School Locality: Newport News

Greetings I have a personal health reason for wanting masks to be mandatory. My daughter has an autoimmune disease. She attends Heritage High. She wears a mask every day. The students are not keeping their distance, and I need my daughter protected at all times. I also have several autoimmune diseases. She does not want to get sick and then pass it on to me. I need my family safe, and if wearing a mask can help do that then so be it!

Last Name: Austin Organization: Petersburg Education Association Locality: Hopewell

I am an educator in the Petersburg City Public Schools. In our district, much like districts across the country, we are experiencing a mass exodus o educators from the classroom. Many are exiting because of health concerns, be it for themselves or those in their care. We don't need to lift any mandates on masking or mitigation strategies because our goal is to product them and our students. In addition we have had to utilize virtual instruction for our staff and students because we don't have enough people to cover classes and we want to make sure those students at home don't miss the vital instruction. This bill will inevitably call increased overcrowding in classrooms and low supervision. If we are to make sure that students are well equipped for their future we can not make mandates based on feelings at that time. We are in a locality that has had a high covid transmission rate since the start of the pandemic. Our school board works closely with the VDH to make sure that the policies that are in place are feasible for our locality. Please don't make the blanket decision that could ultimately cost more teachers their lives and risk the lives of our students. Petersburg has lost a few teachers this year due to Complications from Covid and that is with the mandates in place. Imagine how the numbers will grow if the mandates are taken away. Please don't play with the lives of my colleagues and our students. Maintaining local control allows for flexibility and adaptation for in-person instruction to continue uninterrupted. Please Vote NO!

Last Name: Killion Locality: Spotsylvania

With our schools experiencing major educator shortages, the last thing we need is politically motivated mandates on localities and schools that put our educators and students at risk. We should be doing everything we can to make school systems feel empowered during this unprecedented chaos. Our experience during the pandemic has demonstrated that the virus does not hit every community equally, or at the same time. Maintaining local control allows for flexibility and adaptation for in-person instruction to continue uninterrupted.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Fairfax County

My child, my choice! Parents should be responsible for all medical and health decisions for their children. I DO NOT CO PARENT WITH THE SCHOOL BOARD.

Last Name: Gardner Locality: Chesterfield

As a former educator , I cannot impress strongly enough the importance of passage of this bill for the future of our Commonwealth.

Last Name: Dore Locality: Midlothian

I unequivocally object to the legislature attempting to override local school board on mask mandates on school grounds. This is a dramatic overreach on behalf of a vocal minority with no interest in protecting the public health. Please continue to allow school boards to do this bare minimum to protect the health of their communities.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Chesterfield

We support this bill. SB1303 was a tactical error - well intended but poorly executed - and allowed for tyrannical overreach to be imposed by the unelected and unaccountable CDC (and their willing conspirators in the Virginia Education system). Please save Virginia's schools by correcting this error immediately. Thank you."

Last Name: Peake Locality: Chesterfield

My family of six fully supports this bill and requests its immediate adoption into law. We have suffered immensely these last two + years and had to pull 2 of our 4 children out of the public schools because rogue principals would not honor their medical exemptions from face coverings. SB1303 was a tactical error - well intended but poorly executed - and allowed for tyrannical overreach to be imposed by the unelected and unaccountable CDC (and their willing conspirators in the Virginia Education system). Please save Virginia's schools by correcting this error immediately. Thank you.

Last Name: Chlebowski Locality: Lovettsville

I FULLY SUPPORT this bill. The science is in on the efficacy of masks. The amount of damage that these masks have done for our children in school is immeasurable. I personally know many parents that are dealing with depression and suicide in kids that never had these issues. The social impact of these kids having to cover their faces is stunning. The youngest kids are some of the most impacted, with kids struggling to read and stay on the scholastic track of their peers from just 2 years ago. If we want to talk about science, we cannot ignore the scholastic impacts of masks and these lockdowns. The Loudoun County school board has done so much damage and has been grossly negligent with the handling of sexual assaults and misleading and mis-appropriating school funds. We elected Governor Youngkin for a reason in Virginia. We need to take back control from these ideological, virtue signaling hypocrites we call the Loudoun County school board and their leader Scott Ziegler. Thank you for looking out for our children and putting parents back in the drivers seat of our children's education. Thank you for your quick and decisive actions on these matters.

Last Name: Palkovics Locality: Mathews

I am a teacher and a parent. I am in full support of this bill to make masks optional! Finally, I can breathe!! The VEA does NOT speak for me. There are many teachers who are not members because the VEA has a self-serving radical agenda. Please don’t let them manipulate your decisions. Thank you for listening.

Last Name: Purcell Organization: VEA Locality: Cape Charles

It is essential that masking decisions rest with the school division! Covid and its mutations affect localities differently and to have the state make a blanket decree on masking is foolhardy and dangerous. District superintendents and school boards are qualified to analyze local data and keep their students and staff safe with appropriate and fluid rules on masking during any given variant. Keep the state out of this.

Last Name: Blackstone Locality: Fairfax

School Board have violated their the rights of children and parents. In person instruction is essential. Should any parent believe their child is in danger they shall be required to learn from home not those willing to send their child unmasked/unvaxed. All living souls shall have the ability to opt of any forced medical device. Anyone attempting to force a medical device should be arrested immediately and prosecuted to the fullest extent allowed by law. Those individuals should also be banned from future public service and any retirement nullified/canceled.

Last Name: Tostenson Locality: Moseley

Please vote for parent choice when it comes to masking our children! The negatives outweigh the positives. Time to end the theatre of doing this to our children when there is no scientific proof that it is doing anything for them. They need to be able to see their peers and teacher's faces!! We have been forced to do things for the past two years with zero regard for our own personal feelings or opinions. It is time for us to be given the freedom to make these choices for ourselves and our children. This choice also needs to be given immediately - not put off until the summer when the large majority of children are not in school. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: Vause Locality: Newport News

Stripping duly-elected school boards of their authority to make a decision on universal masking in their districts takes away local control and puts immunocompromised students, teachers, staff, and families at great risk, all just to score cheap political points. Here in Newport News, many parents and school staff signed petitions and spoke before our school board in support of masking during a deadly pandemic, and our school board heard our voices and acted accordingly. Parents aren’t a monolith, many of us in Virginia’s cities support research-based CDC mitigation strategies like universal masking. Wearing a mask benefits others more than ourselves, which is why the CDC still recommends universal masking in high-traffic environments like schools and medical facilities. Immunocompromised people will die at higher rates in Virginia because of this law. And parents in Virginia’s big cities that prefer masking — which makes up most of the population centers of VA — will remember this in 2023. This is Virginia, not Alabama. Public health decisions should be about keeping vulnerable Virginians safe, not scoring cheap political points in a culture war cynically designed to destabilize the public education system. By the way, in New Jersey, school boards still retain the right to universally mask if they choose, even after their governor’s executive order. This allows big cities where many citizens support masking to protect students and staff by keeping evidence-based universal masking in schools. Taking away local control will lead to a lot of angry voters in 2023. Read the room. Listen to ALL parents not just those in conservative areas, and allow democratically elected school boards to do their jobs to serve their constituents, who they know a lot better than state politicians looking for a political ‘win’ at the cost of immunocompromised students, teachers, and families.

Last Name: Kelley Locality: Midlothian

As a parent who stands for parental rights, I support SB 739.

Last Name: Bush Locality: Chesterfield

We support this bill and want to see it passed NOW. This has gone on for far too long. Stop using our children as pawns and stop scaring them into believing that cloth masks will keep them safe. My children are breathing freely and seeing so many bare faces and beautiful smiles in schools is a welcome blessing.

Last Name: Brennan Locality: Chesterfield

We have a right to parental choice for whether our kids wear a mask or not.

Last Name: Quinn Locality: Franklin County

I have been an educator in Virginia since 2008 as a classroom teacher and instructional coach. I currently serve as director of the New Tech Project-Based Learning program at the Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration in Franklin County. SB 739 would allow any parent in Virginia to determine whether their child wears a mask in their public school. By removing the ability of local school boards to set masking and other pandemic mitigation policies, this bill reflects an overreach of state control in our local school systems. It also contradicts SB 1303, which remains in effecct until August 1, 2022, and requires divisions to provide 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 CDC (Virginia LIS). Lifting the mask mandate statewide might be an easy choice if our schools were composed only of completely healthy, fully vaccinated students and staff. However, less than half of my county’s population is fully vaccinated. Exposure to Covid-19 via unmasked individuals could lead to a dire situation for the kindergartener with asthma who is too young to be vaccinated, the pregnant science teacher, the bus driver who is over 65 years old, or the school secretary who is battling cancer. According to the CDC, people of any age with certain medical conditions are more likely to develop serious illness from Covid-19, meaning they may require hospitalization, need intensive care, and become dependent on a ventilator. Covid-19 can rapidly become a terminal illness for those with Down Syndrome, mood disorders, chronic kidney, liver, or lung disease, COPD, heart disease, and autoimmune disorders (CDC). Students and staff with these conditions deserve to be able to teach and learn alongside their peers without constant fear of serious illness. Those who believe masking should be a choice say, “those who want to wear a mask can,” however, studies have shown that universal community masking is most effective, due to the “combined ability to limit both exhalation and inhalation of infectious virus” (JAMA). Other doctors have confirmed that masking “is most effective at reducing spread of the virus when compliance is high” (PNAS). Mask mandates must be a school board decision because infection rates vary across the state. AI have personally spent numerous hours this school year covering classes for colleagues who are out because they are infected, their children are infected, or they and their children are quarantined. According to the CDC’s Dr. John T. Brooks and Dr. Jay C. Butler, “Similar to the principle of herd immunity for vaccination, the greater the extent to which the intervention—mask wearing in this case—is adopted by the community, the larger the benefit to each individual member” (JAMA). As an instructional coach, I know firsthand that many students struggled with virtual learning. If in-person learning is truly our goal, then we must continue to allow individual school boards the freedom to require evidence-based mitigation strategies including masking to keep our staff and learners in the classroom, as they see fit for the localities they serve.

Last Name: Ferraro Locality: Chesterfield

I support this bill! Our children have been used as political pawns and have taken the brundt of adult actions over the last 2 years. Our children are hot ok. They need to get back to normal and this bill will help make that happen.

Last Name: Hargrove Organization: BEA Locality: Brodnax

Greetings, Please reconsider the option of not being able to attend school virtually. This helps with students and staff who are out due to sicknesses and emergencies. Also, if we take off the mask, how will keep our students safe? The goal is to keep everyone in school but if everyone's sick, there will be no one in school period. Please reconsider the masks, the children are fine, they have adapted well. Thanks for your time.

Last Name: Spencer Locality: Richmond

In 2020, when Covid was new and we were all doing our best to keep our children safe, mitigation measures such as masking perhaps made sense. But, now, two years later, absent of any evidence that supports the continued use of masks on school aged children, and with evidence that demonstrates the detriment to children's psychological well being, as well as their social, emotional and academic growth, I ask this House to please pass this bill!

Last Name: Tobin Locality: Henrico

Please vote yes and make this effective immediately. Our kids have suffered mentally long enough. The mask robs one of their identity, individualism, self-respect, voice, smile and self-worth. I have absolutely no faith in the Henrico County School Board to look out for the mental health of the students.

Last Name: McConnell Locality: Albemarle

Please get rid of these tyrannical mask mandates on these kids. If masks work, those who wear them will be fine. These mandates are operating under the idea that legislators and school boards have a medical license. Are you qualified to tell kids to wear a mask without any harm to them physically, mentally, emotionally.? Make them optional!!!!

Last Name: Mueller Locality: Midlothian

As a parent of two middle school children at Midlothian Middle School in Chesterfield Public Schools and a teacher at Westover Hills Elementary School in Richmond Public Schools, I respectfully ask that SB739 be rejected regardless of your stance on the masking debates. School boards are charged with the responsibility to establish rules and procedures intended to keep our students safe, learning, and in school. Parents have the right to vote for their school board member, speak at school board meetings, and speak out on social media and in public spaces in protest. When we (parents) participate in something as important as public education we give up some of our rights at the door of the school building. This is true whether we are talking about public health issues, dress codes, or weapons in schools. Parents do not and should not have the right to choose whether or not to send their child to school with a weapon (for their safety) or to allow spaghetti straps, crop tops and t shirts with violent messaging. Parents should not have the right to determine whether or not their child wears a mask if local school boards have determined they are critical to keep the school doors open, students in seats, and teachers and staff healthy. And available to teach all children. Passing this bill opens a can of worms to all sorts of “parental rights” issues that distract from the most important job of educating our children. Please do not tie the hands of schools and educators who are doing everything that we can to educate and protect the safety of Virginia’s students.

Last Name: Simpson Locality: Loudoun

Please pass this bill. Science continues to demonstrate that not only are masks largely ineffective at protecting one from the spread of covid-19, they are also damaging to the social and emotional development of children. In other words, forcing children to wear masks not only does not accomplish the intended purpose of protecting teachers and staff, it also harms the children emotionally and in their physical and social development. Not only that, but it creates an atmosphere of oppression, and adds an unnecessary laur of rules, restrictions, and discipline that remove all not from the learning process. This bill is vital in returning our children to a normative, healthy, productive childhood where they can grow and learn as they are meant to do.

Last Name: McLane Locality: Aylett

ALL Americans must have the choice to put a piece of dirty cloth over their face and rebreathe their own waste exhalations if they want - especially children. If one enjoys the false security of a decorated piece of fabric on their face to protect them from a virus that goes right through and around, so be it. If their life is so empty they need a mask to make them feel they are doing good in the world - go for it. BUT LEAVE OUR CHILDREN ALONE!!! Masks should have NEVER been mandatory in the first place. We have never worn them for SARS, MERS, FLU... Any legislator, teacher or PERSON that forces our children to wear masks will certainly reep the consequence in this life or the next. Do the right thing and ignore these so called "teachers" who are demanding our children suffocate themselves. These are sick individuals who have no business around our children. Thank you.

Last Name: Ella Organization: SOLO basketball league. Locality: Loudoun County Aldie

Please end mask mandates!

Last Name: Ritchie Locality: Rockingham County

When it comes to children in schools, the question is less about the usefulness of masks and more about who has the authority to make decisions regarding a child’s health and well-being. Ten or fifteen years ago, we would not even have had this conversation because, despite our political diversity, everyone could agree that parents have the authority to make these decisions. For two years now, the Superintendent and School Board members for Rockingham County Public Schools in the Shenandoah Valley have been given the authority to mandate mitigation strategies for our students. Most parents have complied with these mandates, relinquishing more and more control over our own children and decisions regarding their health to our school system for the “safety” of a community least impacted by this virus—our children. (Thank God!) It is debatable whether these strategies have overall proven helpful or harmful to our children, and simple search shows an abundance of research available on both sides of this issue. But again, the masks are not the issue here—parental rights remain the fundamental issue. Simply put, we have tried it their way; now, it is time to let parents make their own decisions regarding a virus that has most certainly become endemic and will likely require the same parental decisions as influenza and its many variants (we have never masked our children for the flu, despite it having a greater impact on the health of children). I am writing urge the immediate signing of SB739 into law so we can give parents and children their freedom back, comply with Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order #2, and reaffirm HB1642, passed in the 2013 legislative session and codifying a parent’s “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” There is no confusion with the language here like there is with SB1303 regarding the recommendations of or encouragement by the CDC to mask children, which offers guidance that is fickle and inconsistently applied by “expert” entities depending on the political expediency of the situation. The language is very clear and indisputable about where the authority over a child’s well-being is placed: The Governor’s Executive Order, SB739, and the previously passed HB1642 specifically define decisions regarding upbringing, education, and care of a child as a fundamental right of the parent. Despite all of this, RCPS continues to mandate masks in a 3-2 vote on January 24, giving the most left-leaning members of an otherwise conservative community an exorbitant amount of power! These hold outs, and two in particular who seem drunk on power, refuse to cave to “law and [Executive] order.” There is absolutely no doubt that RCPS will have to be forced by legal authority (SB739) to follow Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order and make masks optional. By force or not, the majority of parents here know that this is the right thing to do for the constituents in this county (who overwhelmingly support optional masking) by whom and for whom our local School Board has been elected to serve. Please give the parents of our county the teeth they need to make masks optional for their children. PLEASE.

Last Name: Wade Locality: Midlothian

I strongly oppose SB739

Last Name: Carlson Locality: Henrico County

Masking is having negative impacts that we cannot collectively see yet. My personal experience as a mother of 3 children (2 teenagers & 1 kindergartner)in grade school is that my youngest son’s development and education is being directly impacted by being surrounded by masked faces daily at school. Having his teachers masked is also part of the big issue. His speech development, comprehensive letter sound recognition and social skills have been negatively stunted by forced mask wearing when he should be in a fluid learning environment. Leadership must help Virginians stop living in fear and get back to place where we put what we know is best for children’s growth which happens rapidly at their young ages. Give parents like myself who have seen their children decline as the length of this madness continue without end, give us a chance to advocate for our loved ones. We know better than those who are not seeing the impacts of this fear up close and personal.

Last Name: Barbier Locality: Henrico

Please pass bill SB 739 and remove the mask mandates! Thank you!

Last Name: Dodson Locality: Midlothian

Please support Senator Dunnavant’s bill. The idea that ‘masking saves lives’ as it is so often stated is based on the false premise that everyone is correctly wearing and replacing daily N95 masks. This is far from reality. The vast majority are wearing masks with 0% effectiveness (fashion masks, paper masks, not worn correctly, not replaced daily). Even K95 masks sold on Amazon lost their emergency approved designation because testing showed those masks sold from vendors ranged from 0%-95% effective even with the same box of masks (Amazon linked to CDC testing results directly on their site). Many states do not have masking mandates. Their numbers have been in line with states that have mandates. Why would that be if masking was effective? It’s because of my comments above. Wash your hands, stay home if unwell. The numbers will rise and fall with the seasons as they always do. And in the meantime, children can begin to developed critical skills lost like communication, social cues, understanding based on time and expression, ability to bond, improved mental health, etc. Time to return to normalcy.

Last Name: Andrews Locality: Dayton

I’m strongly in favor of students being able to opt out of wearing masks. They’re together without masks socially, in public and in private, as soon as school is out. It becomes pointless and a barrier to education and mental well-being to continue this mandatory practice.

Last Name: Barnes Organization: Schools Locality: Virginia

Masks do help prevent the spread of Covid 19. There are teachers and students who have cancer or other life threatening illness that need that extra protection. Small classrooms and children sneezing coughing on you. You are making a huge mistake. You may kill a lot of individuals by lifting mask mandates. Hold that on your shoulders at night. You should think about others. Kids are fine wearing a mask. Stop being such a flipping idiot.

Last Name: Brown Locality: Mechanicsville

Please only choice on mask wearing for ALL people in a school, including faculty and staff.

Last Name: Santacruz Locality: Glen Allen

Thank you for allowing the parents to make the choice when it comes to their own children. As a parent of 4 school aged children and an educator in elementary school I have seen the damaging effects of these masks and the day they have the choice to rip them off can’t come soon enough. Please allow the teachers as well as it is very important for children to see mouths moving and expressions made!

Last Name: Okouchi Locality: Fairfax Station

SB 739 will place our most vulnerable community members at risk. At this time we have children under the age of 5 who are still not eligible to receive the protection of vaccines. Immunocompromised adults and children should have access to learning and working environments that are safe. Yet, many work places have not upgraded HVAC Merv 13+ filtration nor provided True HEPA air purifiers in all classrooms, cafeterias, and wellness rooms. When community spread transmission rates are high, it only increases with the forced opening of schools without an option to temporarily transition to virtual instruction. The data around the globe makes it even more clear that children are being hospitalized at higher rates with Omicron than Delta. Hospitalizations in kids increased 48.9% higher case-admission rate than Delta, 25% higher in kids 5-17, and kids 0-4 higher than elderly according to South African CDC reports. While we are seeing a slight decline in Omicron cases, the next "Stealth" BA1 and BA2 are following right behind ready for Spring. Removing the ability for elected school boards to develop evidence-based and scientifically backed layered mitigation strategies recommended by the US Department of Education and CDC, including wearing high quality N95 masks is a reckless move by policy makers during an ever changing global pandemic. Most classrooms have 28-30+ students in poorly ventilated rooms for over seven hours a day. Statistically 4 or more children will suffer lifelong effects of long covid. Our nation will need to re-envision the work week, school hours, and learning environment options to meet the needs of disabled children and adults caused by Covid. The shared trauma of students, families, community members, and educational workers seems to be missing considering the mental health and wellness of all. As an Asian American Pacific Islander parent we made sure our children returned to in-person instruction after they were both fully vaccinated. Our local district failed to provide a high quality open virtual option for our children and many other families. We hesitated placing them back in during a historic all time high level of community transmission. Knowing our public schools encouraged vaccinations of staff and students, mandatory masking, creatively utilizing outdoor spaces for lunch, 3-6 ft distancing where possible, hand washing, and hand sanitizer stations throughout the building made our children feel more safe upon their return. I asked our 8 year old how she felt if masks were removed as a safety strategy in school? Bursting into tears her reply, "Is that what they are trying to do? Why are they doing this? We are the new generation of people...if we keep dying we won't be able to create the next generation." Listen to the children. They are the future and they deserve every single layered mitigation strategy we can put in place to ensure safe in-person learning continues. Out of respect for the lives of others we will continue to wear masks, but it only works when everyone participates. Our family urges you to VOTE NO SB 739

Last Name: Troth Organization: my family Locality: Loudoun, Aldie

Please end these mask mandates immediately. My family has endured constant harassment from uninformed mask enforces. My four year old son has a medical mask exemption written by his physician and despite our persistence, LCPS will not honor it. He can't attend any of his sisters basketball games of go on LCPS property. It is very hard for me to understand how any critically thinking individual could conclude that the possible benefits of mask mandates outweigh the immense harm it is doing to individuals, families and communities. Thank you.

Last Name: Ciaverelli Locality: Henrico

Please vote yes to SB 739. Parents should have the choice and should be in charge of the decisions for their children. Vote YES.

Last Name: Long Locality: Mechanicsville

We support any bill that unmasks our children or gives the choice to parents . The effect this has had on them is far worse than the effect Covid has had and we have yet to see the full ramifications of mask wearing on our smallest children. Enough is enough.

Last Name: Long Locality: Mechanicsville

Please move to eliminate the enforcement of mask wearing in schools. Parents deserve to choose what is best for their child. We do not know, and will not know for some time, the full effects of how mask wearing for two years has adversely impacted our children. Covid has proven to not seriously sicken children of all age groups. I have seen people of all age groups out and about maskless. The mandate no longer makes sense and I'm not convinced it ever did. Please eliminate it.

Last Name: Fogner Locality: Richmond

As a former kindergarten (gen ed) & middle school special education teacher masks are not a detriment to children as they are more resilient than you give them credit for. Parents who think it is a detriment feel inconvenienced by their own & are projecting this onto their children. Children want to do the right thing & keep their loved ones safe & understand this is something they can do to help. There are students that are health compromised that need others to wear masks to help protect them. Parents, while well-meaning, send their students to school sick more often than not because they can't be inconvenienced to stay home with them on short notice. Parents are typical not medically educated & *believe* it will pass/isn't a big deal. Covid-19 is novel & there is little known about it. Rather than create undue pressure, please have all students continue to mask for the remainder of the year while more information is gathered about this virus. Many of my students from lower income families had multiple generations living under 1 roof with health compromised older adults. The threat of bringing home this virus and possibly putting their grandparents at risk of being hospitalized & dying is real. Can you imagine the psychological trauma THAT would cause a child? This would create significantly more damage than wearing a piece of cloth over their face. The biggest spikes in cases at schools were after the holidays when families went outside their immediate bubble & socialized, probably maskless, & then sent their children to school immediately following with no isolation to see if symptoms would emerge. All parents cannot, at this time, make the right choice for their community in limiting the spread. Students are crammed into full sized classes so the idea of social distancing as a mitigation factor is completely false. A piece of plastic around their desk isn't effective since students don't stay behind those 100% of the time, especially in middle school. Students must travel in crowded hallways & often travel in groups/cluster to socialize, again creating nonexistent social distancing. Contact tracing is gone in most schools as they can't keep up with it. Teachers and parents won't know if they or their child has been exposed at school any more. For teachers mental health & safety, please keep masks. I personally left the school system after teaching 13 years at the end of the 2021 school year because of rising concerns of the pressure schools are under. By continuing to undervalue educators the public school system will fall as more teachers choose to leave. Less privileged students & families will continue to be marginalized & not provided the same opportunities as those with privilege. For many families private school isn't an option. Wearing masks until the end of the school year will not hurt students, while medical professionals continue to gather data & monitor the rate of infection & severity of this virus. Once it is deemed less severe using scientific data, not feelings, I will feel more comfortable allowing my community to ease up. I have been fortunate to work remotely, wearing masks out where unfamiliar people will be & haven't gotten Covid. Schools don't have the luxury of medical grade masks and sterilization strategies, but they have more opportunity to limit the spread if masks remain in place. Thank you for your time & commitment to keeping our communities safe.

Last Name: Cooper Locality: Hampton

I Kimberly Cooper oppose SB739 !!

Last Name: George Locality: Fairfax County


Last Name: Deaton Locality: Staunton

The state does not need more control of schools. Please let the localities continue to make decisions about their local school division policies. Please do not pass this bill.

Last Name: Einsig Locality: Henrico

As a parent of two elementary students, one with a disability and a 504 plan I urge you to support SB 739. We had to be virtual in 2020 bc the school board said it wasn’t safe (it was) we could have started 2021 year without masks school board said it wasn’t safe (it was). School boards have been frozen in fear for two years making decisions against was is in the best interest of majority of children. SB 739 helps them do the right thing and takes out the political noise. Kids need to be put first instead of being required to carry adults fears on their face every day. The biggest argument I see is what about immunocompromised kids? What did immunocompromised kids do up until Covid? They certainly didn’t make anyone else wear a mask. The next argument is all about the kids with disabilities/504 plans need/want masks. No, they do not nor do I want that for my child. My child is deaf in one ear, wears a cochlear implant, has trouble hearing her peers and reading the social cues of her often making her feel left out. I have put my kids in masks for two years waiting for the schools to catch up to science yet they have not due to political fear of the local/state teachers union. My children are not political pawns. I urge you to support this bill today and if the Governor Puts an emergency clause on the bill after he signs it - I urge you to also vote for that. Thank you!

Last Name: McKenzie Locality: Henrico

Please reconsider the wording of this bill. If students and teachers are to be unmasked whenever they choose we will see so many absences. As a high school teacher I have multiple students who are so far behind because they have been out sick or had to quarantine if not once, but multiple times. These are often the students who are not wearing their masks properly or admit they don’t wear them elsewhere. The gap in their education even when provided materials to get caught up is widening. We cannot continue like this, please reconsider keeping masks as a mitigation strategy to help keep everyone safe.

Last Name: Rogers Organization: EAN Locality: Norfolk

I wish to speak on the bill and it’s effects in its current form, and suggest positive changes

Last Name: Albamonte Locality: Fairfax

My name is Sarah Albamonte, a retired teacher from the FCPS school system. My testimony is in response to SB739. I am writing for myself and for family, colleagues, neighbors, and friends who teach currently. At least one worries that if testimony were linked to them, they would suffer of bullying from parents, students, and their school administration. How sad that pandemic mitigation is so political. I empathize with parents and students who are tired of wearing masks. Me too! But at the heart of this decision is the safety of our communities and defensible metrics that instill confidence in all Virginians. While overall case numbers in Virginia are coming down, what case numbers are we seeing in schools? These are aggregate settings and metrics should be established for the off-ramp for mask wearing based on school and community COVID infection rates. What about Virginia hospitals? If we make mask wearing optional in schools and cases increase, will local hospitals be able to handle the surge in COVID hospitalizations that may result? Your constituents are not just the parents of school children. Your constituents are also the elderly, teachers who are front line workers, children too young to be vaccinated, and the health care workers that care for all of them. This decision has ramifications for far more than just the parents and children tired of wearing masks. Teachers are front line workers. One teacher’s students are old enough to know better but refuse to wear their masks properly. Elderly, and physically vulnerable, this teacher lives in fear of catching COVID as a result. The same teacher reports currently there is a revolving door of COVID infections in the class. If masks become optional, will the number of COVID cases increase? What if they do? Will masks still be optional? How will schools cope with large numbers of students being sick and an even worse chronic teacher shortage? One teacher has a medical procedure scheduled before the school year ends, which has been delayed for over a year due to COVID. Should the teacher catch COVID prior to the procedure, the surgery will have to be delayed yet again. How is the suffering, stress and negative health outcomes of this teacher compared to the negative consequences of a child having to wear a mask? Postponing medical procedures is one of the biggest community problems due to COVID. Think of all the surgeries, most of which could be needed by anyone of any age, including school-aged children and their parents, having to be delayed. Think of all the suffering and possible death that can result. Also realize in a COVID surge, if one occurs following making masks optional in schools, emergency rooms are likely to once more to become overwhelmed. Please also consider the occupancy rates of ICU beds in Virginia Hospitals. Virginia hospital ICU beds currently are occupied, on average, at 76-77%. Many hospital ICU beds in Virginia are currently at 95-100% occupied. As a useful comparison in 2010 the National ICU occupancy rate was 67%. These statistics are courtesy of the NY Times COVID tracking data. I urge lawmakers to develop defensible metrics for any off ramping of masking in schools that take local communities, hospitals and especially front-line teachers and their families into account. You owe a careful consideration of this issue to ALL Virginia citizens. Thank you for your consideration of these comments.

Last Name: Turner Locality: Henrico

I support SB 739 - I urge you to stand up for parental rights. Parents deserve the right to make medical decisions for their children including wearing face masks. The science has shown that the downfalls of children wearing masks are more detrimental than the benefits - it’s time to unmask our children. It’s time to let these young children learn the faces of their peers and how to communicate via facial expressions. It’s time to set their smiles free! Please consider passing this bill and upholding parental right to choose! Thank you!

Last Name: Zoel Locality: Loudoun

OPPOSE. I made a choice at the start of the school year for my children to attend public school because I knew under SB1303 the school division would be required to layer mitigation strategies based on CDC guidance. Passing this bill TAKES AWAY MY RIGHT AS A PARENT TO CHOICE A SAFE ENVIRONMENT FOR MY CHILD. Passing this bill takes away my right as a parent to provide public input to my local school board. Passing this bill prevents my local school board from using a proven, effective and inexpensive measure to keep children in school and learning. Passing this bill repeats the error of forcing schools to remain in-person even when there aren't enough teachers and students could receive better instruction in a temporary virtual environment. SB1303 expires at the end of this school year and at that time all school divisions would have returned to normal pre-covid operations. The passage of this bill is a vote to continue the pandemic, to undermine the authority of our school boards and to silence and remove parents from any future discussions of health measures in their schools. Passing this bill represents government overreach and a silencing of parent rights!!!! P.S. Will all the private schools, who sold admission based on having masks as a mitigation measure now also be forced to make masks optional?? OR, are you planning to take away parent choice only for the public school families while the private school families are the only ones allowed to retain parental rights to the instructional environment they chose this year?

Last Name: Romesburg Locality: James City

As a physician with young kids being impacted by nearly 2 years of masking, and as a son and spouse of educators in classrooms, this issue is of particular importance. Even when my kids got COVID despite mitigation efforts, and most kids eventually will (even if vaccinated), it was nothing more than a minor cold as is the case overwhelmingly with Omicron variant in particular. The mitigation efforts have become worse than the disease for children. Teachers have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and therefore should be protected from serious illness requiring hospitalization, and those at higher risk such as immunocompromised should continue wearing an effective mask such as N95. Those thinking if they send their kids to school with a cloth mask to a room full of other kids with masks being worn incorrectly and intermittently all day are kidding themselves if they believe they are 'safe' from infection/transmission. I support SB 737.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Chesterfield

I support SB739. Let people decide for themselves! If the masks work, then wear one. If you have someone at home who is at risk, wear one, wear two, or wear 5! Let the rest of us determine our risk. I like air.

Last Name: Abell Locality: Chesterfield

My family and I were unknowingly exposed to black mold over the past 15 years (both in our home and 4 of those years from my boys’ moldy Chesterfield school, which thankfully has been torn down since). People suffering from mold toxicity experience frequent headaches, brain fog, breathing issues and a heightened allergic response to all forms of mold. This condition often goes undiagnosed, but we have been lucky enough to find doctors to treat us. Wearing a mask exacerbates all of our issues, as moldy mycotoxins and airborne molds are trapped close to our face. Changing the mask daily does not change this exposure, as moisture from an exhalation is held in the mask trapping more of these airborne toxins for us to breathe. Unfortunately our doctor had been attacked for the 2 medical exemptions that he wrote (his medical license was threatened) so he refused to write our family one, despite his strong feeling that the masks are detrimental to patients like us. You cannot know my frustration to see doctor’s hands tied as a result of political bantering. Moreover, the frustration to see my children be caught in the middle and watch them have to risk their health to appease a “dog and pony show” of wearing masks that do not protect against viruses anyway! My high schoolers also do not want to be singled out, so they risked their own health by complying with the mask mandate. For 2 years they suffered all the affects of daily mold-borne illness. My oldest son would come home from school with 3 or more headaches a week from wearing the mask all day and well as a constant stuffy nose. Since removing the masks in school, my boys are finally able to breathe properly again and their headaches have subsided. I wish I could say that they are fine, but that’s not how long term mold exposure works. This just caused another 2 year setback for them. We are not the only people with health related conditions which were not honored or respected by the school system. I am a certified teacher who cannot work because my condition is far worse than my children and teachers are still required to wear masks. I ask that you consider all of the teachers, like me, who cannot and will not work under these conditions. Please remove your mask mandate for teachers and let these grown adults decide the risk for themselves!

Last Name: Penn Locality: Richmond

I work in the Chesterfield county public schools system as a special education teacher assistant and at age 65, I am also the youngest of four living (out of 11 siblings) who have health issues along with compromised immune systems. Yet, I am the healthiest of all and I do my best to help them. However, not only am I putting myself at risk I am also putting my family at risk. One of my sisters is in need of a kidney transplant and I don't want to have to feel guilty about bringing Covid to her door and endangering her life even more. I protect myself as best I can, but if we do away with the mask mandate in the schools, countless families will be impacted and scores of people may succumb to death due to a foolish decision to get rid of the protections that we have. We know that covid is no respecter of persons, despite race, age, country of origin, economic status, religion or cosmic belief . I BESEECH YOU TO PLEASE HAVE THE HEART AND PRESENCE OF MIND TO CONSIDER THE LIVES AT STAKE. Historically, in these United States, we have legislated into law things that have had egregious outcomes (in the name of human/individual rights). We know that not all of those legislations worked out the best for any human:s rights. Are we there again? How many lives will it cost to see the error in this decision when we are still in a pandemic and there are still so many people unprotected. The most precious and defenseless among us are falling I'll/dying from Covid now (our CHILDREN). WE CANNOT SAVE THE CHILDREN WITH THIS LEGISLATION.

Last Name: Rally Locality: Quinton, VA

I am requesting you do not remove the mask mandate. Our children under five are not vaccinated and deserve a chance to be before this is removed. The preschools will follow the guidance of the K-12. The argument should be for better masks not for less masks. We are just coming off a surge. Many children have immuno-compromised parents or siblings, this takes away one a measure of protection for them. Not all schools are able to distance or have adequate ventilation. Ventilation and distancing should be addressed, you are hanging the children out to dry along with teachers. There’s only a few more months left in the school year, we will have the ability to have more in person learning with masks that will help prevent the spread.

Last Name: Jefferson Locality: Chesterfield

I support SB 739 sponsored by Dunnevant with the amendments proposed by Peterson.

Last Name: Harris Locality: Amelia Court House

Please support and pass this bill to ensure our children are no longer masked in school. I am lucky I live in a county that chose to follow the Executive Order, but many other citizens are having to fight every day to have that same choice. Our children have been pawns in this game for much too long. Schools need to get back to educating and leave medical choices up to parents. Science has shown the risk to be minimal to children and the perceived benefits of masking no longer outweigh the damage that has been done to many students these past few years. Thank you.

Last Name: Eggers Locality: Virginia Beach

Passing this bill effectively allows a newly elected political leader with no (known) training in public health to disable the sole mitigation public schools have had to reduce the spread of COVID19: universal masking. Let's order the mitigations for COVID19 from most invasive to least invasive to consider this more thoroughly. Vaccination mandates are most invasive; mandatory testing for all might be second; social distancing would be third, and masking is the least restrictive. Virginia schools are not mandating vaccination (although many states DO mandate vaccination for staff and students). If Virginia is not mandating vaccination, does not mandate regular testing, and cannot ensure social distancing in classrooms even when "practicable", masking is the only mitigation left. The case for following CDC guidelines as supported by 1303 is sound both from a public health viewpoint and scientific viewpoint. Virginia must take its public health recommendations from professionals in public health, rather than from parents who choose to interpret wearing a mask as a personal affront to their personal freedoms rather than an act of good will that will reduce the risk of harm to others. I recently heard a fellow citizen state that she was "not responsible for the health of others," she is only responsible for her own health. I ask you, when did Virginia become an "individual-wealth?" We are a community and this reasoning is erroneous and devoid of understanding PUBLIC health and PANdemics. Let's keep the COMMONwealth in mind and vote against removing the one mitigation we have been able to employ. Yes, the numbers of cases are declining (but hardly low at 17% positivity in my area). Yes, we need LOCAL, data-driven off-ramps for masking in the future because none of us loves masks or wants them forever! But no, we don't have high vaccination rates in children, we do NOT know if another variant will emerge, we DO have people with disabilities/medical vulnerabilities in public schools, we DO have at-risk adults and family members in our school communities, we CANNOT distance in most educational situations, and we MUST admit that humans live in groups of other humans who can be harmed or killed by our decisions. PLEASE vote against this bill. Uphold the original law until its July expiration date. If your goal is to truly serve ALL the people of Virginia, please consider that disempowering school boards from making data-driven decisions based on local metrics and overriding the one mandatory (yet non-invasive!) mitigation against COVID places Virginians, especially students and staff with medical vulnerabilities, at an unacceptable and avoidable risk.

Last Name: Messe Locality: Mechanicsville

Dear House Education Committee Members, I URGE YOU TO SUPPORT SB 739 AND UPHOLD PARENTAL RIGHTS. I appreciate the fact you’re receiving push from both sides of the mask argument – those that want a mandate and those that expect freedom of choice. As a Parent of three high school-aged children, I hope you will make time to read my comments in whole. Given the divisive political climate at just about every level throughout our nation, I cannot help but be drawn to America’s guiding principles in support of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, for a reminder on what makes Her so special. But why do so many today choose only to focus on America’s darkest history chapters, bemoaning a transformational change, choosing to overlook all of the GOOD that has come from this freedom-loving democracy? Don’t we know what History has shown us regarding the slow creep of socialism/communism? Don’t we know what is required to preserve our Republic? Don’t we know why Emma Lazarus wrote of the huddled masses yearning to breathe free? How can we forget why the freedom offered here has been so fiercely defended since the birth of our great nation? The Bill of Rights Institute in Arlington, VA, defines the Founding Principle of Liberty as “the power to think and act as one sees fit without restraint except by the laws of nature and interfering with someone else’s rights.” John Basil Barnhill, a noted American anti-socialist writer, editor, politician, and debater during the first quarter of the 20th century, wrote in 1914 that “when the people fear the government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty.” Newly inaugurated Governor Glenn Youngkin gets that, and has vowed to give power back to Virginia Parents. After all, under Virginia law, Parents, not the government, have the fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care of their children. Youngkin’s Executive Order No. 2, which took effect January 24, 2022, empowers parents with mask choice, just as SB 739 does. Benjamin Franklin once said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Please support Parents' choice, thereby championing the founding principle of liberty and the preservation of American life. Sincerely, Rebecca Messe Hanover County

Last Name: Schmidt Locality: Midlothian

Please allow parents the choice to unmask their children. CCPS has had optional masks and it has been wonderful to see such happy students and smiles !!

Last Name: Patwardhan Locality: Fairfax County

Masks save lives. Masks are the reason kids can be in the school building full time. Not to mention that pre-COVID, masks could have spared us from countless absences from garden variety illness. Removing mask mandates will put us in a position of having to pivot to virtual or contend with a surge in cases. In my experience, children comply just fine with masks. The angriest people about mask mandates aren’t the children, it’s adults. The selfishness of some of the adults is truly appalling. I thank my own Senator, Jennifer Boysko, for voting against this legislation. I just wish her colleagues shared her care for the families of the Commonwealth.

Last Name: Bumgarner Locality: Chesterfield

I oppose SB739.

Last Name: Duckworth Locality: Virginia Beacg

Parents should have the right to make medical decisions for their child and this includes if they should wear a mask! Reports now state masks do not even prevent the spread of the virus. Unmask the children!

Last Name: Reich Locality: Arlington

I support this bill. Please support in-person education and parent choice regarding masking. Parents know how masks help or hurt their children. School boards do not.

Last Name: Holmes Locality: Hanover

I stand in support of allowing parents to have a choice to decide what is best for their children. Please do not continue to force this on children who have already been through so much. It’s time to get back to normal.

Last Name: Wilson-Carpenter Organization: Virginia State Conference NAACP Locality: Chesterfield

The Virginia State Conference NAACP opposes this legislation. We urge the Committee to vote no on SB739.

Last Name: Tanner Locality: Hanover

As a citizen and parent of a high school student in Hanover County, we should be allowed to chose for our children whether they wear a mask or not. Our children have been forced to endure mask mandates long enough. For the last 2 years, I’ve watched my son and his friends struggle daily to try to be normal kids in an extremely unfortunate set of circumstances. As masks are now optional in Hanover County, I’ve seen a huge turnaround in my son’s mental health and happiness. Everyone should be allowed to chose what works best for them, as we are all different. Each of us needs something different in order to grow and thrive. Virginia elected a Governor who recognizes it’s about the choice. Masking should be optional!

Last Name: Pekarik Locality: Fairfax

Merrium Webster defines the term normal as " conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern : characterized by that which is considered usual, typical, or routine. " We are all tired of the pandemic and want to return to a sence of normalcy. However, just like pre 9/11, our world has forever been changed by Covid 19 and the world we once knew pre-Covid will never be the same again. What is normal for one area has never been normal for another area. The best way to do that is to allow local communities be able to establish how and when each area can embrace this new reality. Right now, our students need consistency and routine. Let us finish this school year with the mask mandate and then make the change to give parents a choice. Our kids have suffered with too many transitions and it shows. They have adjusted to school life with a mask. You seriously want to cause more of a disruption to an already second turbulent school year. As a parent and educator, I worry about those with families that cannot be immunized, or are immunocompromised and how one person's selfishness can bring harm to others. What are we teaching our children? It's okay to be selfish? It's okay to harm others and be disrespectful? Others dont matter? That is certainly not the message I want my children to learn. We mask up for others who are sick. We mask up to protect those whose lives are threatened. What do you say to those parents and families that lost a child to Covid? Yes we have the freedom of choice. However that freedom comes with a responsibility not only to protect ourselves, but to protect the interest of the common good. When the good of the team is at stake, we need to put aside our selfish individual wants to protect the whole of society. If your minds are set on passing this bill, then consider a vaccination requirement so that the level of protection you have removed can be substituted with another layer. As a parent you do not let your children do anything they want. They need boundaries to develop the morals and characteristics of abiding citizens. Parents have always had a choice and already have a choice when it comes to their children's education. It's called electing.their school board members. They voted for their local school board members or chose not to vote in their local school board elections. If they dont like the policies that have been set, parents have a choice to vote those members out. Or better yet, they should run for their local school board and can work for change. I was once told, if you dont like something, you need to come up with a solution but also need to be willing to put in the work to make.the change.

Last Name: Sweat Locality: Isle of Wight County

Please follow the VA senate and pass SB739 to allow the rights of parents to choose what is best for our own children in school. What is best for my child medically may be different than another’s. My choice should not be any less important than any other persons. Also my rights under Va law can not be infringed upon because if someone else’s fears. Thank you for your time and help in this very important matter.

Last Name: Greene Organization: Chesterfield County NAACP Locality: Chester

I oppose SB739

Last Name: Carpenter Organization: Chesterfield County NAACP Locality: Chesterfield

On behalf of the Chesterfield NAACP, we stand in opposition to this legislation. This bill disregards mitigation recommendations from the CDC put in place to keep all students safe. This is a severe overreach of the state government to take control away from local school divisions. The Health and safety of our educators , school staff and students must be our priority. Our locally elected school boards are granted the public trust with many decisions on how to best run their school divisions, and this should be one of them.

Last Name: Morin Locality: Chesterfield

I vehemently oppose sb739

Last Name: Marks Locality: Chesterfield County


Last Name: Saunders Locality: Chesterfield

I oppose SB 739

Last Name: Pizer Organization: Arlington Special Education PTA Locality: ARLINGTON

Arlington Special Education PTA opposes SB 739 because it would prevent students with disabilities from accessing their education in public schools during the pandemic. Many students with disabilities are at higher risk for severe illness from Covid-19. These students need schools to follow CDC mitigation strategies, including universal masking, so they can safely access in-person school. By allowing parents to opt their children out of mask requirements based on a preference, SB 739 forces parents of vulnerable children to choose between their child's education or their health, or even their life. This is not right. There are federal laws in place to protect these students. But SB 739 attempts to prevent schools from following the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. These laws require schools to provide equal access to disabled students and make reasonable accommodations to ensure disabled children can attend school. Mask requirements are reasonable accommodations required by these laws to protect the rights of disabled children. Without universal masking, disabled children will be shut out of school. The General Assembly of Virginia should not pass a law that attempts to override federal laws. It will likely be enjoined by a court. Please remove the language that requires schools to allow opt-outs to universal mask requirements (the Petersen floor amendment). Please add back in the language from SB 1303, a law that passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last year and that has enabled schools to be open and safe: - the requirement that schools follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practicable - the allowance for schools to temporarily shift to virtual instruction when Covid-19 transmission is at a high level - the option to provide a virtual learning program to students who elect it - the direction to school boards to set their own parameters for in-person instruction - allow teachers to teach virtually during isolation, quarantine or as an ADA accommodation. We look forward to an improved version of SB 739 that accounts for the needs of all students, including Virginia's students with disabilities who are more vulnerable to severe illness from Covid-19.

Last Name: Reese Locality: Midlothian

I oppose SB739

Last Name: Frailing Locality: Virginia Beach

I stand in opposition to SB 739 and urge the General Assembly to deny its passage. As a retired RN, after 44 years in my profession, I value the benefit of my education and experience which taught me to rely on the scientific evidence with demonstrable outcomes. And the outcomes of mask use in this ultra transmit-able pandemic have been clear. The local school boards should retain the right to make decisions regarding their staff and students. And masking should continue in schools, as recommended by the CDC, to protect the vulnerable and promote the public health of the community. I have family employed in VBCPS and four grandchildren as students. One has an autoimmune disorder as well as a parent who is a lung cancer survivor, with one lung, Students who remove their masks, sometimes without parental knowledge, expose them to a possibility of serious health consequences. This bill should not be passed!

Last Name: Gregan Locality: King George

I am in full support of this bill. I am a parent of 2 and should be afforded the right as a parent to decide what health choices are best for my children. The science that backs up benefits of student masking does not exist. Most of the world and 34 US states currently allow parental masks choice. The list is growing in the US. My children have suffered both the consequences of virtual education and masking. The psychological and physical consequences of masking are yet to be studied. Based on my own experience, children may suffer for years as a result of flawed overreaching government policies regarding masking and virtual education. Please pass SB739 and restore parental choice. The parents and children need their rights restored.

Last Name: Stecher Locality: Moseley

Cloth masks, which are the most accessible for children, have been shown to be ineffective time and time again, including in the recent CDC study (in the fine print, they note that it’s not statistically significant, but they misleadingly include cloth masks on the infographic anyway). “Surgical” masks for children are only marginally better, and that’s assuming they’re using them correctly (and they’re not). N95 masks are only 95% effective with a very tight seal, hence why fit tests are necessary. They are not FDA approved for children and likely pose more risk than benefit. All this aside, this bill will not prohibit parents from masking their children if that is what makes their family comfortable. Stop putting these burdens on MY children. So many states are coming around. It’s time for Virginia to end mask mandates. Chesterfield County has continued to see a sharp decline in cases even after the mask mandate was lifted. It’s time to acknowledge the social and developmental harms that masks can cause for our kids. Virginians voted for Youngkin in November. We’re tired of the baseless mandates. End masking. End contact tracing. End test to stay. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people are both spreading Omicron. It’s time to move on.

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Richmond

Thank you for supporting SB739! We want parent choice. Masks do nothing but harm children developmentally. They do not protect anyone from this virus. It is time for parents to decide what is best for their family and we are so appreciative of you standing by us. VOTE YES ON SB739!

Last Name: Telkamp Locality: Virginia Beach

Those that are challenging the masks mandates are choosing to do so under the guise of personal choice. How is my choice respected by forcing unvaccinated kids to be side by side with those that are vaccinated? How are you being honest when you allow the lies and lack of clarity to perpetuate the dishonesty. If they don’t want to mask, send them to Virtual Virginia, not those that choose them. If mask mandates are good enough for the governor’s kids at their private school, it’s good enough for the rest of the state.

Last Name: Schultz Locality: Fairfax City

Please vote against SB739. I oppose this because as a parent of 2 children in public school, as well as a 3 year old, that I want masking decisions to be made at the local level, not the state level. This bill takes away freedom to make choices in our communities if any health crisis comes to our area in the future. Repealing the mask mandate is understandable as virus levels drop, but prohibiting possible future action to protect our students and teachers if a new variant causes high hospitalization rates would be negligent. Masking has helped make in-person school much safer and we have learned how important it is to be able to have students in the classrooms. Our local leaders need every tool available for future student/staff safety if it should be needed (though I pray that it would not). Thank you for considering.

Last Name: Schmidt Locality: Midlothian

Thank you for supporting and voting for SB739. A great bipartisan bill to help get our students back to normalcy. Please also vote for the emergency clause.

Last Name: Gnadt Locality: Chesapeake

I am writing to ask you to oppose SB 739. My son is enrolled in public school and has remained safe from Covid due to universal masking. Being in school is so important for his mental health. Additionally, his 4 year old sister is higher risk and ineligible for the vaccine due to her age. Keeping our children safe from this disease is important to our family. For our daughter, masking is all that we have.  SB 1303, a bi-partisan bill that passed last year with overwhelming support, has been very successful. Under SB 1303, schools have been open and safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools accomplished this by following CDC guidance, as they are required to do by this law. I am very concerned that SB 739 would remove these critical parts of SB 1303: • The requirement that schools follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practicable; • The direction to School Boards to set their own parameters for the provision of in-person instruction; • The allowance for schools to temporarily shift to virtual instruction when Covid cases are at a high level; • The option to offer a virtual learning program to students who elect it; • Allowing teachers to teach virtually during isolation, quarantine or as an ADA accommodation, and have that count as in-person instruction. Additionally, schools need to have the flexibility to respond to this particular public health threat as well as ones in the future. 

Last Name: Hyatt Locality: Henrico

When did we as a society decide that we should stop caring about our neighbor? Stop doing things for the good of all? If we could just stop being so selfish, maybe COVID would be less of a threat. Wearing masks in schools is vital to keeping our children safe. As a teacher in an elementary school, I can assure you that not a single student has had an issue wearing a mask. It seems to be the adults who are the problem. Stop the fighting. Follow the science and keep the mitigation strategies in place. It’s our only hope of ever getting back to some semblance of normalcy. If you won’t do it for yourself, then can we please think about those who are immunocompromised and don’t want to be stuck in their houses for the rest of their lives? Or maybe for those who have a developmental disability that keeps them from being able to wear a mask? Do the right thing—vote no to this absurd bill.

Last Name: Gnadt Locality: Chesapeake

I am writing to ask you to oppose SB 739. My son is enrolled in public school and has remained safe from Covid due to universal masking. Being in school is so important for his mental health. Additionally, his 4 year old sister is higher risk and ineligible for the vaccine due to her age. Keeping our children safe from this disease is important to our family. For our daughter, masking is all that we have. SB 1303, a bi-partisan bill that passed last year with overwhelming support, has been very successful. Under SB 1303, schools have been open and safe during the Covid-19 pandemic. Schools accomplished this by following CDC guidance, as they are required to do by this law. I am very concerned that SB 739 would remove these critical parts of SB 1303: • The requirement that schools follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practicable; • The direction to School Boards to set their own parameters for the provision of in-person instruction; • The allowance for schools to temporarily shift to virtual instruction when Covid cases are at a high level; • The option to offer a virtual learning program to students who elect it; • Allowing teachers to teach virtually during isolation, quarantine or as an ADA accommodation, and have that count as in-person instruction. Additionally, schools need to have the flexibility to respond to this particular public health threat as well as ones in the future.

Last Name: Levin Organization: Self Locality: Mechanicsville

Please vote in favor of SB739 - Dunnvant. There are so many reasons to support this bill. I will focus on what I find to be the most compelling ones: 1. The harm to our children's development - speech, emotional development, developmental delays due to not seeing facial expressions, etc. 2. Kids are being hospitalized with multiple infections and not with Covid because they have spent two years not being exposed to microorganisms and germs. 3. The immunocompromised argument that is being used to guilt people into keeping our children in masks doesn't hold. I am one of those people. We had to protect ourselves from other viruses and bacteria long before Covid and we will have to continue doing so long after Covid. 4. If school boards actually listened to their constituents, this action wouldn't be needed. If this action isn't taken, we will be having this discussion next year and possibly the year after and after, depending on how many more variants we will have to deal with. 5. Parental rights are in the Virginia constitution and supersede the section that gives local school boards control. 6. It is the right thing to do - stop using our children as political pawns. 7. Teachers, parents, and students over 5 years old have vaccinations available to them. Teachers got high priority so that we could reopen schools, but the union keeps moving the goal post. Enough is enough. Thank you in advance, Yael Levin, Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Last Name: McNulty Locality: Alexandria City

Please do not approve this bill which will usurp local control from our elected School Boards. The decision to require masking in schools should be done at the local level, utilizing community health metrics, like community transmission and vaccination rates. While community transmission is high, we should be allowing our School Boards to utilize every tool in our toolkit to protect our children from COVID and the possibility of developing serious sequelae like diabetes or thrombotic events. Additionally, when children who are masked, they are less likely to quarantine after a close contact. Please do the right thing for our kids and do not vote for this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Kahwajy Organization: Chesterfield NAACP Locality: Chesterfield

The Chesterfield County N.A.A.C.P., Branch #7120 stands in opposition to SB 739 and any attempt by the General Assembly to circumvent federal guidance and masking recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and other public health authorities, as applied in the K – 12 Public Schools. SB 739 attempts “ Notwithstanding any other provision of law or any regulation, rule, or policy implemented by a school board, school division, school official, or other state or local authority, the parent of any child enrolled in a public elementary or secondary school, or in any school-based early childhood care and education program, may elect for such child to not wear a mask while on school property. A parent making such an election shall not be required to provide a reason or any certification of the child's health or education status. No student shall suffer any adverse disciplinary or academic consequences as a result of this parental election.” This proposed legislation defies logic, serves to impede local divisions from making informed health decisions intended to protect the children, teachers and other staff within their school buildings, and flatly denies science and all common sense. This bill may be appeasing ‘parent-choice’ and anti-mask proponents, but it ignores what impact this move will inevitably have on the most vulnerable folks in our schools. The Chesterfield N.A.A.C.P. urges our elected leaders to follow the federal health guidance to continue to allow mandating mask-wearing and the practice of other mitigation strategies to address the spread of COVID-19. Not doing so will put our most vulnerable populations at risk.

Last Name: Mason-Snowden Locality: Hopewell

This bill is making it unsafe and creating a barrier in the school system that was already dismantled years ago. Our children, teachers, and staff are there to learn,and do their jobs not be put at risk. Please put a stop to this bill and allow schools to create mandates and place measures to keep all parties safe at their discretion.

Last Name: Felton Locality: Virginia Beach

I am speaking on behalf of the EO2 order. I have children who are both asthmatic and need masking to remain in place. My husband and I both care for our elderly parents who have underlying health concerns. Masking in public facilities such as schools should continue until the mask mandate expires. Hopefully the number of positive case would have decreased significantly at this point in time and optional masking could be addressed. Moreover, according to the CDC, masking is still needed and removing them too soon could be detrimental to our state (especially our health care workers). I am prayerful and hopeful that masking will not be made optional and the mandate for face coverings will remain In effect until it’ original expiration date. Thank you for your time.

Last Name: McClintic Locality: Loudoun County

Dear Committee, My 14 year old and 12 year old are done with the masks in school. They are an annoyance and a distraction. They tell me of kids who are constantly pulling them down anyway and, in a sense, it has become entertaining to walk by staff with the masks up, only for kids to drop them after the teachers and admins go by. This is having the inverse impact of teaching kids to be sneaky with their masks which does nothing to support and reinforce following the remainder of the “important” school rules such as attendance, conduct, academic integrity, respect for authority, and behavior. It is unconscionable to think that these certain school boards, seeing the writing on the wall coming from the general assembly and the governor, after having so readily followed Northam’s order, have further dug in and insisted they dictate these mandates and then put their school administrators (principals and vice principals) on the front lines to do their dirty work with students and parents. The injury has been done. This will have the long-term impact of distrust of school administrators and these school boards should be ashamed and embarrassed that the general assembly has to take time from the important work they do to reach this far down into the weeds to effect the correction for a law (SB1303) that never had the intent that these school boards claim. We would likely still be in virtual schooling had the general assembly not acted then either. This is a terrible pattern for these school boards to hold this level of power. Parental choice on this matter is long overdue. As certain school boards have made this about a power struggle with parents (who are the very people they are working for). I commend senator Chap Petersen for doing Virginia a solid on this issue by: 1)warning school boards weeks ago that they needed to define what the off-ramp for masking was to look like ;and, 2) for the courage to put this through the senate to the relieve Virginia’s students from being in the middle of this onerous and wearying power play. The only amendment I would suggest would be one that states something to the effect of: “A school board shall immediately EXPUNGE such record for student who was suspended, segregated, or disciplined for non-compliance with school rules which was based wholly, or partially, on a masking rule or mandate occurring from January 24, 2022 until the date the governor signs this bill; additionally, that any student who was suspended shall be given ample opportunity, time-for-time, to make up and receive all necessary supports to equate their progress to their peers as though they were not suspended.” The net intent of my suggestion is that no Virginia student retains a disciplinary record whatsoever within the school system for non-compliance with school mask rules or mandates which may impact their post-high-school career or educational intentions. Thank you in advance for your taking on this mask matter and I, and my children, pray it advances to the governor’s desk quickly. Regards, John McClintic Philomont, Virginia

Last Name: Strauss Locality: Richmond

Parents have the right to choose what’s best for their child. The school board/government doesn’t have the right to make a child wear a mask.

Last Name: Clock Locality: Henrico County

I'm a public school teacher in Henrico County. I watch with dismay as my colleagues henpeck students over masks throughout each school day, only to go maskless during lunch-breaks and large meetings. Are we protecting students or the delicate sensibilities of hysterical teachers? My interests lie solely with the welfare of our students,and it's apparent to me that our children are done with the policing of mask-wearing. Besides, the enforcement is selectively applied. I, for one, show up each day to educate - not to infringe on the bodily autonomy of my students. No one is demanding that students can't wear masks; rather many of us maintain that it should be a choice. For two long years, students have compromised crucial stages of their youth in order to obey the whims of politically-charged mandates. Over the past month alone, many leading figures in the battle against Covid-19 have revealed as much. For example, Dr. Leana Wen, CNN's Medical Analyst stated on Dec 21st, 2021: "Cloth masks are little more than facial decorations and should not be considered an acceptable form of face covering." Did the science suddenly change? No. Did VA schools mandate, as Dr. Wen would say, a "more acceptable form of face covering?" They didn't. Besides, why wasn't this revelation about cloth masks disclosed when the initial (and far more severe) variant was working its way through the population? Masks now serve as a symbol of compliance; not a sound method of containing a virus that is already becoming endemic. Our 6ft rule of social distancing in HCPS is a thing of the past. Students are free to enjoy 25 minute lunches maskless, without any apparent threat of catching or spreading C19. Sports and clubs have returned, most without Covid-mitigation restrictions in place. It's time for students and parents to make these health decisions for themselves. One caveat: at-risk students and teachers should have their voices heard. HCPS implemented online-learning last year, leading to the formation of the Henrico Virtual Academy. Now might be a time for local leaders to consider how staff and students with high risk factors can have their individual needs met without demanding healthy citizens comply with mandatory masking. Respectfully, R.A. Clock

Last Name: Saltisiak Locality: Virginia Beach

I am a parent and SB739 removes my parental right to keep my kids safe. My child has medical risk and a disability. She is at risk and her physician says she could have a further risk of disability if she contracts COVID. Why do others choices about masks count more than her right to a safe educational environment. We create smoking areas to limit health impact of the personal choice to smoke from impacting others health. We require seatbelts to protect safety despite "personal choice." The "personal choice" are the same arguments used for seatbelts, smoking, and numerous other safety measures. One person's rights end where another's begin. Please oppose SB 739.

Last Name: Wilson Locality: Richmond City

SB739 I have a son who is currently attending Richmond Virtual Academy (RVA) because he is a special needs student who can not wear a mask nor a shield. RVA has enabled us to keep our son safe from COVID. As of today, we are still in a pandemic with a new variant looming, BA.2. We are unable to predict what the fall of 2022 will look like pertaining to additional variants and waves. You are proposing that parents decide if their child wears a mask which means sick children will inevitably be sent to school to infect others. It appears the virtual option, utilized by special needs children who are unduly subject to the virus, will end. What protections are being instituted for vulnerable children who cannot mask? Are they simply expendable? You have catered to the comfort of others. What will you put in place for the SAFETY of the vulnerable children who also need to be educated? You are a proponent of providing parents with the power to choose. Should the parents of the vulnerable not also have the right to choose a safe alternative? Should someelse's freedom to chose put vulnerable children in danger? What about the rights of parents of the vulnerable? I am requesting that the virtual learning provision is extending for the 2022-23 school year for medically and developmentally challenged children who can not protect themselves from other children and school personnel by wearing a mask.

Last Name: Forner Locality: Glen Allen

Support not having virtual learning being a replacement or count toward in-person learning instruction. Students need the in person instruction and our students are behind.

Last Name: Holsinger Locality: Chesapeake

Please vote no on SB 739. It is not time to get rid of masks in schools yet. Cases are still very high, and a subvariant that is even more contagious has made its way to New York. This bill will make it illegal for schools to implement safety measures no matter how much they need to in future emergency situations, whether it is the current pandemic or the next viral outbreak that hits us. Why would you prohibit something that would help keep kids in school? Schools having to shut down is what takes the real toll on kids, not wearing masks. We need better masks, not no masks. Since cloth masks aren’t very effective against omicron, schools can provide KN95 /KF94 masks, which are much more effective. Our family relies on masks in school to keep our kids’ dad healthy. He is an immunocompromised cancer patient. If one of our kids brings covid home, it would likely be a dangerous situation for their dad should he get it. He is currently undergoing potentially life-saving treatments, and even being a close contact if one of our children gets covid could mean a delay in his treatments due to having to quarantine to follow his doctors’ covid protocols. We have done everything we can to protect him, but schools are the weak link in our mitigation measures, and will become even weaker with optional masking. We are, in fact, affected by the choices of everyone around us.

Last Name: Gibson Locality: Newport News

I am a teacher with Newport News Public Schools. When schools shut down I taught virtually from 8-4 then remained available to parents until 10 most nights just to help them. During Covid I had to have surgery which led to blood clots. I have since discovered I have a clotting disorder and my body is full of them. I shave been lucky enough to not have contracted Covid despite returning to a fully opened school. I don't know how my body will react to Covid despite me being fully vaccinated. I follow every precaution and I am sure to have my students do the same. Since we have opened I have had a lot of students absent due to contracting Covid and I'm sure that an open cafeteria doesn't help. However, I'm sure those numbers will be even worse of we remove masks from schools. We are already experiencing a teacher shortage and as a veteran teacher I supply lesson plans to 4 schools, teach a class virtually as an overload in addition to my own 12 classes. There are a lot of teachers in my same position whom may not be able to continue teaching if our health isn't valued as much as people's rights to not wear masks. It's a small ask for me to continue to do my job. Please reconsider this bill.

Last Name: Lambert Locality: Norfolk

Can we say government overreach?!? You are snatching power that should be retained at the local level. This robs school divisions of the flexibility needed to pivot to virtual learning in the event of emergencies such as urgent repairs, threats, and not having enough staff to safely operate buildings. You're so hung up on your political agenda that you refuse to acknowledge the secondary and tertiary level consequences of your actions. It is becoming more and more obvious that the Virginia Republicans have nothing but contempt for public schools. Enough is enough.

Last Name: Strauss Locality: Richmond

I have the right to decide for my children, what is best for them when it comes to them wearing a mask. I do not want them to wear a mask. A mask does not prevent the spread of a virus. My children have already had COVID. Parents who want to send their kids can with a mask can continue to do so. Parents who don’t want their to wear a mask need to maintain that right. No one besides the parent has the right to enforce a mask on a child. Thank you.

Last Name: Henderson Locality: York County

As an elementary school art teacher with over 650+ K-5 students who enter my classroom each week, I am extremely concerned that making masks optional statewide right now via this bill is the wrong decision given the huge increase in Covid deaths in Virginia in the last 2 weeks alone. 75 Virginians have died of Covid for each of the last 7 days in a row. 32,000+ Virginians tested positive last week for Covid and 4,700+ Virginians were just diagnosed with Covid on Thursday, February 10, 2022 per the Virginia Department of Health. Over 60,000 Americans died of Covid in January and 2600 Americans died of Covid yesterday. One teacher colleague at my school is in the ICU at this very moment with Covid and another's husband died two weeks ago from Covid. We may be done with Covid but Covid is not done with us. As the data clearly has shown in multiple medical studies in multiple countries the last two years, masks on everyone provide the most protection for all of us. While specific studies on mask wearing in school children are rare, we can look to the UK where British schools had to reinstate masks in schools last month just a week after Prime Minister Johnson relaxed Covid restrictions because of a huge spike in Covid cases among students. Just because there is an absence of data or research on a specific age group does not negate the overwhelming evidence that masks are effective in preventing the transmission of Covid. For my medically vulnerable and special needs students who deserve the safest and least restrictive learning environment to my own circumstances, as a teacher living with breast cancer, masks on everyone in school make it safer for all of us, especially those too young to get vaccinated or boosted. Teachers are tasked with protection of our students from the time they enter our buildings to the time they get off the bus or get picked up by their parents. We willingly put ourselves in harms way for our kids in every emergency... from getting students in cars and on buses safely in a snowstorm, fires, tornados to protecting them from armed intruders. Unlike individual parents who may or may not support their child wearing a mask, I must think of ALL of my students...what is best for a class of 30 or a school of 650..not just one single student. I am devastated that my students' safety has become a political hot potato for those who are so far removed from what the reality of teaching every day in Virginia is like. All of my students deserve to be safe at school for the good of everyone...if they are out sick because they have Covid, they are not in school learning. If their teacher is out sick with Covid, there are few subs available and emergency coverage is simply not the same. Virginia teachers have given everything we have the past 2 years for our students. We have pivoted again and again, from virtual to hybrid to in person and back again, doing every thing that has been asked of us in extreme circumstances and we just keep showing up to do our jobs. This pandemic has taken a physical and mental toll on all of us, students and teachers alike. Just as mandated seatbelts and child car seats, while restrictive and sometimes uncomfortable, keep all children safe in cars, masks keep ALL students and teachers safe and help us all remain in person, in school. Please do not support this bill.

Last Name: Cahill Locality: Chesapeake, VA

This bill is irresponsible and completely disregards the need for future public safety concerns, The State should not be usurping local School Board’s authority regarding the safety and well-being of their staff and students. Governor Youngkin’s desire to dismantle public schools is getting in the way of sound media al guidance. Listen to the CDC - it’s too soon to take away masks. Stop pandering to the anti-masking, anti-science crowd.

Last Name: Peterson Locality: Chesapeake

Please vote against SB739. The amendment prohibiting school boards from requiring masks is shortsighted and reckless. This bill will make it illegal for schools to implement safety measures no matter how much they may need to in a future emergency situation. This bill also makes no accommodations for students with disabilities. Instead, it ignores them, in violation of federal ADA laws. We cannot put our students with disabilities in a situation where they have to wait for a lawsuit to make its slow journey through our court system just to be able to attend school and receive the education that is their right. Please vote against SB739. Thank you.

Last Name: Hanewich Locality: Chesapeake

Please vote NO on this bill. Safety should always be the first priority in creating any environment for our children. This bill goes against using masks in protecting our children during a pandemic. Even more concerning to me is that if things get worse with other variants of COVID and additional mitigation measures are needed, it ties the hands of localities to protect our most precious resource, our children. It also does not take into account children with health issues or disabilities that deserve to have a safe environment to learn, many of which also need additional resources that are not easily or effectively delivered in a virtual setting. They deserve safe in person learning too. Parents shouldn't have to remove their children from school because it is an unsafe environment for their child. Masks work and they are practicable. Please vote NO on this bill. Thank you.

Last Name: Edwards Locality: Virginia Beach

As a parent of a child in VB Public Schools, I strongly oppose SB739. Localities across the commonwealth should be able to work on a local level to address Covid-19 mitigation within their schools. If the goal is to ensure in person learning occurs, we should do everything possible to mitigate risk of contracting Covid. Schools across the commonwealth have already shown that mask wearing is practicable.

Last Name: Schmidt Locality: Moseley

Thank you for supporting this bill and it’s amendment for mask choice in schools. This is an amazing step in reinstating parental rights. Our kids deserve normalcy and to be released from a burden they were never meant to carry. Most importantly if a parent still chooses for their child to wear a mask, they may do so. Please also support and vote in favor of the emergency clause to make it go into effect immediately. Thank you for your vote and thank you for your time.

Last Name: Koewler Locality: Fairfax

Vote NO on HB 1036. According to CDC guidelines, the 3 foot separation in classrooms is only acceptable if both students are wearing masks. Without both students masked, this will mean more students paused or quarantined and greater loss of learning with each positive case in schools. Please do not hamstring our local elected school boards from following CDC and local health department guidance to keep children safe at school, including by wearing masks and other mitigation strategies when the metrics justify their use.

Last Name: Clock Organization: My children and teachers who want to breathe free. Locality: Henrico

Please, sign this bill and make masks OPTIONAL in schools. We’ve had a 7 day average of 493 people in all of Henrico County with positive tests. That’s 0.1% of the population . Why should our children be masked up any longer?? This has nothing to do with Covid anymore. Cases have dropped 70% in the last 3 weeks. We MUST move on. Please, also think about making masks optional for teachers. It makes no sense to give students the option but leave teachers masked. They want to breathe free too! Signed, a mother of 3 and wife to a teacher.

Last Name: Crapanzano Locality: Richmond City

The school board of each individual county/city should elect to determine the best health and mitigation strategies for its students. Virginia is a diverse state with many different concerns and priorities based on the population of the city/county. Each school board should have the power to determine which mitigation strategies are best for their constituents based on the health data and guidance provided by the state. Introducing a bill that would limit the school board's power to protect its people (if they so choose to do so) would set an incredibly poor precedent for the future of Virginians.

Last Name: Freeman Locality: Henrico

As an immunocompromised RPS teacher, I have very concerned about teh removal of the mask mandate in VA schools. I have had three doses of the vaccine as well as a booster, but current science says that those who have one or more serious medical conditions are at higher risk of serious cases of COVID that could lead to death. I have systemic lupus, lupus nephritis, and arthritis. I also do small group instruction as an interventionist so I can't stay six feet away from my students. There have always been school rules that are different from home rules. Such rules include raising your hand to get out of your seat, walking in the hall, and keeping your hands to yourself. Some parents teach their kids that if someone hits them or is mean to them, they may hit back. This is not allowed in school. Yet I don't ever hear of parents trying to force schools to allow their children to fight/hit. To my knowledge, high school students can't smoke on campus even if their parents let them smoke at home. No one protests that. Mask mandates are no different. It's about being respectful to others, such as myself, who have health issues. Please vote NO on 739. Let school boards make their own decisions about what's best for their students. Thank you.

Last Name: O'Dell Locality: Alexandria

Masks should be optional only if vaccinated and if community transmission is low. We must keep children with immune conditions and other health issues that put them at risk for long-term consequences safe at school. We must focus on keeping vulnerable children safe. It is their right to attend public school, too.

Last Name: Clark Locality: Virginia Beach

Please consider removing the ban on masking policies. We do not know what direction the pandemic will take. My son is fully virtual but I would like to put him back in school next year. Local health departments and school boards are best equipped to make decisions about whether mandatory masking should be instituted. Thank you.

Last Name: Baham Locality: Glen Allen

Please do not change the mask mandate in schools unless the level of transmission goes down in the county that the school is in.

Last Name: Bosco Locality: Suffolk

I oppose this proposed legislation. When conditions are warranted and local health districts advise for measures to be taken, it is unconscionable to think a LAW would preclude such measures to be taken. Ones freedom of 'choice' ends when it inflicts harm to others.

Last Name: Atlas Locality: Chesterfield

I am writing to strongly encourage you to keep the mask mandate in schools and to allow the districts to decide what safety protocols need to be made for the common good. I know that you are probably getting a flood of emails regarding this. If I were to return to school with unmasked students and increase my chance of contracting COVID and I would risk my life and the life of my daughter and husband. I am high risk due to being a severe asthmatic, so much so that I was given an accommodation to work from home last year. My daughter has had 2 heart surgeries in the past 3 years, the first being on Valentine's Day of 2019 and the second on Dec. 18, 2019. This is also on record, as I have a current FMLA accommodation to attend to her various healthcare appointments. Her cardiologist is Dr. Ellenbogen at MCV. She was sent to him because her first cardiologist fired himself from the case because her heart was too tricky. My husband is in stage 2 kidney failure due to his service in the Army. We have all been advised by our health care providers that catching COVID, despite being triple vaccinated could cost us our lives. We are all very careful and wear KN95 masks at school and take every other precaution that we can. No job is worth losing my husband or my daughter or to risk leaving my husband without a wife and my daughter without a mom. I beg you to not make me make that decision. Right now, just like every educator, I am tired but I am doing everything humanly possible to help keep our students in school. I am writing sub plans, teaching in classrooms, and doing my normal job. I will continue to do all I can to do what is best for our students, I just don't see how risking my life is in the best interest of our students. Nor do I feel that I should be required to risk my life in order to keep my job. I understand the choice and the sacrifice of risking your life to protect and serve others. My husband just retired from active duty service in the Military on September 1st after 36 years and six months. I understand what it means to wait for your husband to be medically evacuated out of Afghanistan with such a severe medical problem that they did not think that he would live through the flight to Germany. I know what it is like to be separated and unable to see, touch and barely speak to him through that process which lasted 5 days. I know what it was like to nurse him back to health while he was in the Wounded Warrior Unit on Fort Belvoir. It is hard to believe that a teacher would be asked to take this same risk. You have the power to protect us, please make the bold decision to take the hard stand. I for one will stand behind you when you do.

Last Name: Holton Organization: Fed up parents who understand data Locality: Henrico

Please for the love of all children in the state. We ALL know, the data is clear, there is no quantifiable physical risk to children due to covid. Enough of the charades. What there is a huge risk of is these kids being mentally damaged for life. I literally talked to the girl who cuts my hair tonight..... Her 2nd grader is afraid to take off his mask. Make no mistake, this is mental illiness. Mental illiness that is perpetuated by triple vaxed adults who have continued to hide behind children in the name of safety. The time has run out. Normal, real actual normal needs to start yesterday and clearly it will ot happen with out this bill passing and forcing these "educators" to stop abusing the children of their districts. They will not do it on their own.

Last Name: Heilmann Locality: Richmond

I have been a teacher for 14 years. Every year I get sick at least twice a year usually more. Ever since COVID started and I started wearing a mask all the time, I have not been sick at all. I just started a new position this year where I teach approximately 900 preschoolers. I've be diligent in wearing and asking the students to keep their masks on. This school year I haven't been sick, no COVID -19, no strep throat, no colds, no fevers! I know I have been exposed to COVID several times. I know the masks have kept me from getting sick. The biggest difference between my teaching pre-covid and now is that I wear a mask and I ask my kids to wear masks too. Please vote NO on Bill 739. Allow the school districts make the decision. Let's give our local communities the choice in this matter. This isn't a personal choice this is a choice for the community. Let us make that decision.

Last Name: Szurkus Locality: Henrico

Please allow school boards to make masking decisions for their students. Individual parents should not be making these decisions that affect public health. Allow our schools to do with masks what they do with so many other things— make the best decision for the school community as a whole.

Last Name: Wiliams Locality: Williamsburg

Thank you for taking the time to vote against this bill. First, it is a further slap in the face to teachers - can we truly afford to lose more? Second, students are not the ones with problems, adults are. This has become a political game and children are being used as pawns - passing this indicates that you are willing to treat them this way also. Third, covid has not gone. It is not endemic. The community transmission rates are high. Fourth, businesses, military bases, stores still have masking requirements for their staff and visitors, why are schools so different? Especially when one considers the lack of quality air filtration, the number of students and proximity of space for 8 hours a day. Finally, do we really need to reverse a law that has served Virginians well so far,? Following the CDC guidance has kept us mostly safe.

Last Name: Lampkin Locality: Williamsburg

I am pleasing with you to see reason and not pass this bill. I am a 21 yr teacher. This year has been my hardest ever. I have taught all age groups and in 3 different countries. I have taught in 4 counties in VA, military wife. I beg of you do not roll the dice this close to the end of the school year to appease those few loud voices. Covid is still spreading, I have several students out with it now and more qurantining. The damage caused to the constant disruption of in school followed by out of school is so much more than the damage caused by wearing the mask. Of all my classes I have 3 students who struggle to keep the mask on. I have more students who expressed concerns about masks coming off. I teach middle school. These years are crucial for learning study skills, conflict resolution, and finding a path for success - this cannot be achieved if home because of covid or quarantine. Please, if you care about students and educators do not allow this bill to pass.

Last Name: HERMSMEIER Locality: Charlottesville

In regard to SB739 , it is too soon to make masking optional in schools. Omicron is in our schools. The masking is helping us to keep teachers, students and families with underlying medical condtitions safer. Please do not risk the health of us educators. We are doing our best each day to educate the children. We all want the pandemic to end. It is not over yet. Please wait until our cases are lower before you lift the masking mandate. Kimberly Braze Hermsmeier 1465 Stoney Creek Drive Charlottesville, VA 22902

Last Name: Sokol Locality: Fairfax

It is important for the local school boards and Departments of Health to have final authority since they know when local conditions are in surge mode where transmission likelihood is high and when there is less need. Directing all school boards to have a data driven and transparent trigger for both requiring universal masking and for reverting to family choice is a better approach and more adaptive to other non-Covid local health emergencies where masking or some other form of mitigation might be needed. Medical emergencies (including surges that result in high hospitalization and strain on the health care system) happen too quickly for legislative action and are often community based and not state wide, so masking may be needed in one locality but another locality might be better off with personal choice. In addition, there needs to be explicit protection of the use of physical distancing (6 feet - not separate rooms) between unmasked people in a school building and those who are protecting themselves or another vulnerable member of their household by avoiding high risk situations, like indoor crowded settings. Workplace discrimination based on medical need, or lack of access to instruction for students who have a medical need for more stringent mitigation should not be allowed. The current wording would allow unmasked families to claim "punishment" when they are asked to maintain distance even when it is to prevent a real danger to specific individuals (who also have a right to medical privacy and should not have to disclose their specific medical issue to others). Many Virginians and children with medical conditions (cancer patients, those on immunosuppressive medication, those at high risk for complications, those with cardiovascular or lung disease) do not have a choice about being in the school building and are legitimately endangered by being in close proximity to unmasked people . While I respect the choice of those who do not have these needs to remove their mask during low and moderate community transmission, I (and others like me) also need my physical and mental health (there is a lot of anxiety involved in being near large numbers of people and this is much worse when indoors and with those not wearing masks) to be protected and my choice to protect myself by increasing my physical spacing to be respected. The bill, as written, will force passionate teachers, counselors, and administrators out of education (further stressing the ability of schools to provide a quality education) and will force the most vulnerable students out of schools (both public and private). While I am not opposed to ending the statewide mask mandate and leaving the decision up to local (elected) school boards, removing the ability of school boards to protect the majority of their community and not including protections for the vulnerable during optional masking (which will hopefully be most of the time) is a mistake. Remove the universal masking requirement, require localities to give clear, transparent, and data based criteria for when universal masking begins and when it ends, and include protection for those who need to insist on unmasked people remaining 6-10 feet away from them. This will protect the unmasked from being segregated while also not segregating and/or excluding the medically vulnerable. Thank you.

Last Name: Milligan Locality: Frederick

I understand the push to ask for schools not be able to mandate mask wearing. However, in school instruction has been able to take place because of mitigation strategies and because schools are able to work with local health officials to determine how to best meet the needs of the community. Places of educations should maintain the flexibility to do what is best for their local communities. Every student in the building should be considered, and those most vulnerable should be protected. When did we quit sending the message that we work as a community? How far are we to allow the State government to control local communities? Having been part of the poorest communities and the richest communities, there is no way to address the unique needs of different areas of our great commonwealth with such over reach. Vote this down.

Last Name: Lienau Locality: Portsmouth

Dear Education Committee Members, I am writing to request that you all localities to make decisions based on the knowledge of their own areas when it comes to setting pandemic mitigation policies including making masks mandatory and moving all classes to virtual/online learning. In using our current public health situation, as you know, not all areas are experiencing the same positivity rate. Therefore, this is not a one size fits all situation. I do not know if all districts have posted a COVID dashboard but if you look at the COVID dashboard for Virginia Beach City Public Schools for the month of January, you will see there was almost 4,000 known positive cases in the school system. We know there were more cases that were not reported or were not considered in this count because of when the person tested positive. It is important to look out for everyone's health, keeping in mind the students, staff members, and their families that have health conditions that put them at serious risks. When looking at this this is the same health argument/concern as smoker’s vs nonsmokers. Eventually it was determined that the nonsmokers right to not inhale smoke superseded the smokers right to smoke and smoking is not allowed in public buildings. Replace this with people with health concerns needed those around them to wear masks should supersede an individual rights to go mask less and put others at risk. If the General Assembly passes laws, it is an overreach of their powers. The local governments and local school boards are in a better position to make decisions for their areas. Please keep in mind that while we may all be over COVID, masks, and extra-hand washings, COVID is not over. We can't stop working to protect public health because we are just tired of doing it. Please DO NOT VOTE to take control away from local school boards to make decisions on what is best for their areas based on data and what we've come to learn to talk about the "metrics". Some areas have been hit much harder by COVID. Please allow them to keep people in masks to protect all and allow them to decide if they need to temporarily move to virtual/online learning to keep everyone safe. Sincerely, Kathy Lienau 149 Tyler Crescent East Portsmouth, Va 23707

Last Name: Liechti Organization: Albemarle Education Association Locality: Charlottesville

"Currently Albemarle County, Virginia (as is the case in every county in Virginia) has a COVID transmission rate at high level according to the Virginia Department of Health. Under the Virginia Department of Health's own website, they state that masks are recommended for everyone 2 years or older when indoors during a high transmission rate of COVID in an area . I appreciate that Albemarle County Public Schools are maintaining their current mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our school division. Since July, the ACPS dashboard has verified over 1,200 students have confirmed COVID cases, and 280 staff members. Every student and worker in Albemarle County deserves to work in a setting that ensures that they are in a healthy and safe environment. The county has taken the advice of the Center of Disease Control and followed their mitigation strategies to ensure that everyone is in a safe environment. We encourage you to continue following the recommendations of the CDC. There is also a bigger issue about your constitutional authority to make decisions in public schools. We encourage you to hold firm in protecting local authority to make the necessary decisions to keep their students and staff learning and working in conditions recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. I ask that you oppose SB739. Thank you. Vernon Liechti

Last Name: Farmer Locality: Glen Allen,

I am writing to urge continued bipartisan support for this bill. As a nurse of 19 years, with 18 of them being in pediatrics and as a paramedic who volunteers in the community, I see that damage that is being done daily to our children from the social, emotional, physical, and developmental perspective, related to this pandemic on a daily basis. Covid is NOT killing our children. Taking the ability of parents to make the best decisions for their child is. Have any of you ever told a father his child isn't going to wake up as he falls to his knees and sobs at the bedside? I have, one too many times, as we fight with all our knowledge in an ER or PICU to have that not be the case. Parents need to have the ability to determine what is best for their children. Even after 19 years of nursing experience, you know who is usually right when they say, "Something just isn't right, there is something wrong with my child"....... The PARENT. Almost every single time a parent's instinct knows something isn't right before all my training, motherly instinct and medical knowledge identify the issue. All children deserve to have the ability to be in school in person and to breathe freely with without a mask if that is what their parent determines is in their best interest. We ARE killing our children by putting all the responsibilities of the pandemic on children who are the group that is least at risk, the data shows that over and over again. Our children deserve to breathe freely, our families deserve a choice, the least at-risk population deserves to have a return to normal, our children need exposure to the normal germs of childhood to develop natural immunity to other viruses and a robust immune system. I urge you to put this decision in the hands of parents, the ones that know their children like no one else. I urge you to look at the data. Virtual school and masks are NOT harmless interventions. I truly believe the is a step in the right direction the politicians are able to come to together across the aisle to support families! I want nothing more than to protect children in the Commonwealth of Virginia, as I have done for the last 18 years, and this is a huge step in the right direction,

Last Name: Alejandro Locality: Richmond

Please vote NO to this bill. Undermining mask mandates is the wrong move and puts our kids and teachers in jeopardy. It undermines local operational control of our school boards, which is unconstitutional. Our schools should not be the grounds for elected officials to suddenly dictate policy when they won’t even provide full funding for our schools so they have the resources they need to deal with the real trauma of this pandemic. This hyper focus on “parental rights” is distracting from the real need of focusing on bringing more resources to public schools—we shouldn’t be distracting school boards who have done their due diligence and adopted mandates to emphasize safety and well-being. I’m appalled as a public school parent to see the GA put our children’s lives in danger. Please vote NO.

Last Name: Baumgardt Locality: James City County

I support this bill and will be opting out of masks the day it takes effect. Our school board continues to mandate masks for everyone 2 and older and have refused to put any metric on when they will even consider making masks optional. They also and have put in writing that they plan to mandate masks during flu seasons in the future but will not define "flu season". My elementary aged children both need speech therapy and have IEPs but are not allowed to remove their masks during speech or special ed phonics instruction, so the speech therapist and reading specialists can bot even see if they are forming their sounds correctly.

Last Name: Duke Organization: none Locality: Glen Allen

I am writing to urge you pass SB739 so that it can move forward to become law. I am a parent of 2 children in Henrico County. It's time to get back to educating our kids and stop the political games with COVID. End mandates, including masks, keep schools open.....and let parents have a choice. 500+ million dollars of tax payer money should not be used without the voice of citizens and parents...schools do not operate as authoritarians with no voice of the people.

Last Name: Lane Organization: As a Teacher Locality: Front Royal

Please keep the safety of our students, educators, and families. Our schools are very crowded. We cannot always maintain social distancing. Classes are back to back with no time to sanitize in between students using the desks and materials. Masks are the only mitigation strategy that we can do consistently. It is essential that we do everything we can to limit the spread of COVID19. Our student are thriving being in person in school. We are gaining ground lost during this pandemic. Students are with their peers, doing the things that make school engaging. Removing the masks puts all students in jeopardy of having to go back to distance learning. Thank you, Tracie Lane

Last Name: McCann Locality: Henrico

Thank you for voting to put our children's well-being first, by voting to allow parents the choice of masking their children. I personally have a child who had unsuccessful sinus surgery a year ago and suffers from a deviated septum. Wearing a mask for 7 hours every day feels like suffocation to her. She is miserable and feels like no one cares. First because of virtual school and now because of masking, she's been so depressed that she's been seeing a psychologist and is on anti-depressant medication. This has to stop. Children are miserable. They need to see each other's faces during the school day. They need to breath fresh air. They are the least likely to be hospitalized or die from Covid, and yet they've had the most restrictions of anyone in society. Here in Henrico County, it's obvious that the school board will never do the right thing. It's time for the petty local dictators to be forced to unmask our children. Please do the right thing for our kids. Let them be kids again, and stop making them bear the brunt of this virus for the adults.

Last Name: Burton Locality: Henrico

Please pass this bill with an emergency clause to allow for immediate choice in masking and end all mandates. My 1st grader has struggled academically and socially the last 2 years. She is part of the “lost generation” that started her formal education in virtual kindergarten in 2020. She has since struggled to grasp reading concepts over the last 1.5 years and her confidence wanes with each passing day having to wear a mask at school. She is struggling so much that we made the decision to leave Henrico county (where my husband and I were raised and work and started a family) to move to a county that values our parental choice and knowing what’s best for our child’s long term success. We will also likely have her repeat 1st grade due to the harms the mask wearing has done to her. I beg of you please PASS THIS BILL!.

Last Name: Ritenour Organization: Chesapeake Education Association Locality: Chesapeake

This bill is a major overreach of the state government to take control away from local school divisions. Health and safety must be priorities for our educators and students, and the measures needed to ensure health and safety will look different across the state due to the beautiful diversity of Virginia's schools. Our local school boards are entrusted with many decisions to run their school divisions, and this should be one of them. Please oppose this bill.

Last Name: Bull Locality: Montgomery County

Last year the General Assembly passed legislation to help school divisions be able to return to full day in-person instruction. When this legislation was crafted it created guidelines and best practices to help school divisions and students return to in person instruction in a way that prioritized the health and safety of students and school employees. Following the CDC guidelines about masking was one of those things that allowed us to safely be in school even in the Delta and Omicron waves because people were protected. As someone who taught online students last year, I was excited to get back into the classroom and engage with my students face to face. Masking at my elementary school has become a habit. Masks are provided when needed--on the bus or if a mask is damaged during the day. My students slide their masks down to drink water and we are seated with distance at lunch. It is just part of their day or routine, much like getting up and choosing pants and a shirt, students also wear masks. I have not have students complain about wearing a mask--it is just the routine. And masks work. A new study from the CDC last Friday found that wearing ANY mask indoors was associated with significantly better protection from Covid-19. In indoor settings, surgical masks reduced the chance of testing positive by 66% while N95 and KN96 masks cut the odds of infection by 83% as reported in the Washington Post. even cloth masks, which many of my students wear because they are comfortable reduce the risk by 56% which is over half. Overriding last year's legislation to remove local control from school divisions is not needed. As Covid cases decline school divisions are already changing masking requirements. This should not be a political decision. I do not want my students or colleagues to become ill. I also do not want to have to quarantine or have my class quarantine because one student who chooses not to mask comes to school covid positive. This is a learning loss for everyone. As an educator, I implore you to vote against SB739. School divisions should be the ones to decide what is the best option for their localities based on community spread within the county or city AND within the school system. Eliminating the school division’s ability to move to virtual teaching options even if there are threat situations, HVAC failures, or significant staff shortages will cause harm to students and employees. I urge you to put the safety and wellness of students and staff before politics. I urge you to vote against SB739.

Last Name: Lindsey Organization: Self Locality: Pulaski

I am almost 64 years old and still teaching as I came to the career a bit later than many. I have followed our school system’s guidelines, and to date have four negative tests that were taken voluntarily. I am fully vaccinated and still wear my masks. Many students are still wearing their’s showing good choices. Our rush to take away a local board’s right to make a decision is a misstep. I have no immediate family and lost extended family to Covid. One perso said you took that shot you will die in two years. I said that’s more than the Bible promises. They looked funny. Evidence people know little of their religion because no one is promised tomorrow. I hope we all have many tomorrows and are proactive in fighting whatever variant of Covid comes our way. Thank you for your service and I hope statesmen and stateswomen are leading the way not political ambitions.

Last Name: Traylor Locality: HENRICO

Thank you in advance for voting in favor of this important bi-partisan bill, which will help us all move forward after living in the dark for so long. First and foremost, children need in-person education. Secondly, it is time to allow for parent choice in relation to masks in schools. This bill in no way prevents parents from choosing to mask their children if they decide that is right for their family; it only allows others to make their own choice. Many other states have recently approved similar bills - the tide has turned and our children can now enjoy seeing each others smiles once again.

Last Name: Thompson Organization: HEA Locality: Harrisonburg

Teaching is a respected profession. It should not blow with the political winds every 4 years. Governors and Lawmakers alike should recognize the talent and dedication of it's teachers and be proud to protect and lift them up. Those who dedicate their lives to public service from police officers to teachers are being maligned across the country. This must stop! Virginia lawmakers have a duty to provide the best public servants they can find for it's citizens. Let us find common ground and give the teachers the respect they deserve!

Last Name: Carne Locality: Williamsburg

Our children deserve the freedom the rest of society gets. . . Being mask free where they spend the majority of their daily life! 8 hours at school! Our school leaders have exhibited risk-adverse decisions since March 2020. Our children have been the collateral damage of this Covid pandemic! It’s a shame that in the last two years our children have had a virtual education, masked-up, and denied extracurricular activities. Their social, mental and emotional health is continuing to be suppressed by the literal & metaphorical masking. . . It’s a symbol of safety which is an illusion and makes some in authority feel they are protecting others. #unmaskourkids #choice

Last Name: Jones Locality: Bridgewater

Please vote to protect out teachers and all students. Students can easily adjust to using a mask knowing they can help protect others.

Last Name: Lawrence Organization: Henrico Education Association Locality: Glen Allen

As a high school teacher I am very concerned about the negative effects on my students education if this bill was passed. Masks have been shown to be effective in reducing not only covid, but other viruses like the flu. Having a mask mandate in high transmission areas will reduce the number of absent students. We all want our students to be in the classroom learning. Please oppose SB739

Last Name: Romesburg Locality: James City

As a mom of two public school children, this issue is of particular importance. The treatment (masking) has become worse than the disease for children. My son (7) tells me he "only smiles in PE" -- his teachers have no idea. As a public school employee, I feel safe without our children wearing masks, and I would like to stop wearing one as well. Teachers have had the opportunity to be vaccinated and therefore are mostly protected from serious illness requiring hospitalization. Additionally, those at higher risk (e.g., immunocompromised) should continue wearing an *effective* mask. Furthermore, anyone else that wants to wear a mask certainly can, but for the rest of us, please allow our choice. I encourage you to please, please pass this bill (SB 739) and have it go into effect asap. Thank you.

Last Name: Heil Locality: Ruther Glen

As a first grade teacher, I have evidence that since the change in the policy since Governor Youngkin’s change to the masking policy, the Covid caseload has increased significantly. Prior to the change in masking policy. I had 3 kids quarantined. Since the change , I have had 4 more kids get Covid. At this point I’ve had 33% of my class who has had Covid. I do not wish to endanger my students . For the duration of this academic year, I’d recommend that we continue with masking.

Last Name: Maksimowicz Locality: Westmoreland

It is past time to unmask our children and teachers -their choice. The data does not back the continuing masking . Children are being harmed mentally as well as physically by being masked 8 plus hours a day . It’s time to stop the political control in our schools. What is best for the students is to educate them . Last year was a wasted virtual and masked event in which minimal learning occurred. End masks ASAP. Not in July . NOW

Last Name: Briscoe Locality: Abingdon

As an educator, I am against SB739. It should be left up to each locality to determine what mitigation strategies are needed for their particular area and population. They should be able to make policies concerning masks in schools without outside influence of parent or community groups. A great number of our younger students are not vaccinated and neither are the families. That is their right not to do so. But they should not have the right to be in a school setting without masks. They are not only taking a risk of contracting the virus or possibly passing it to another person. Schools are already strained for lack of substitutes needed for teachers, custodians, cafeteria staff who become ill. If school staff are required to wear masks, shouldn't everyone be required to do so. Localities need to have more say concerning mitigation strategies in order to keep everyone safe and schools open for all students to learn. Thank you for your consideration.

Last Name: Low Organization: none Locality: Chesterfield County

I am a teacher in Chesterfield COunty. This is my 31st year teaching in Chesterfield. I am appalled that our school board has opted to make masks optional at this point. We have so many positive COVID cases that we are struggling to keep teachers in classrooms, and we are covering for our quaratined or sick colleagues. Nevertheless, I feel it is imperative that local school boards have the power to make decisions for their own areas about masking. Situations are different from one area to antoehr, and having the state be in control of that decision just doesn't make any sense. Please reconsider this bill and do not pass it. Thank you!

Last Name: Glidewell Locality: James City County

I support SB739 as it should be a parents choice whether or not to mask their child. There is so much evidence coming out from doctors and experts showing the cloth and disposable masks the children are wearing are pointless - merely facial decorations. I am concerned for my children’s social development and speech.

Last Name: Trant Locality: Williamsburg

Include teachers and staff too! Free the people!

Last Name: Trant Locality: Williamsburg

END MASK MANDATES NOW! Our children. Our choice.

Last Name: Campbell Organization: The College of William & Mary Locality: Williamsburg

END THE MASKS NOW! Our kids are suffering physically and mentally.

Last Name: Chachor Locality: Williamsburg

Parents should have the CHOICE to make any and all medical decisions for their children. A mask is a medical device, and therefore should be left to the parents to decide. The cost benefit of mask wearing is no longer valid. These children are suffering- and the scary part is we won’t know the long term effects of masking until it’s too late.

Last Name: Niles Locality: James City County

Unmasking our children is overdue. Please approve this bill and get our children back to normal.

Last Name: Hickey Locality: Albemarle County

SB739 a terrible bill for four main reasons. First, it is directly at odds with the guidance of our pediatricians in Albemarle County (and indeed the VA Chapter for the American Academy of Pediatrics) that all children continue to be required to wear masks in our schools. Second, it overrides the decision of our local School Board to follow this medical advice. Third, schools and teachers routinely implement basic safety rules to keep kids and staff safe. They require vaccinations, prohibit kids from throwing scissors, and require kids wear shirts and shoes. None of this is remotely controversial, nor is wearing a mask during this time. It's a simple, respectful way to keep oneself and others safe. Fourth, this is a shortsighted and reckless bill that neglects to account for the certainty of future pandemic conditions. Why in the world would we outlaw one of the strategies we know to be effective in protecting communities during a pandemic? It's totally irresponsible, illogical, and contrary to public health. Finally, if you do decide to pass this terrible bill, please be mindful that laws in VA become effective on July 1 per our Constitution (Article IV, Section 13) unless there exists some emergency dictating that the bill needs to go into effect earlier. In that case, the bill must pass with 4/5 of the members of each house of the General Assembly in support. To be clear, there is obviously no emergency reason to impose SB739 on communities prior to July 1. Nor should you attempt to bypass Article IV, Section 13. Respect the VA Constitution. Respect the rights of parent to have a safe learning environment for our kids in our public schools. Respect local communities. In sum, please reject SB739. But if you do pass it, please do NOT attempt to force it upon communities any earlier than July 1, the effective date set forth in our Constitution for laws passed in our General Assembly.

Last Name: Garran Locality: Williamsburg

It is far beyond time to unmask our kids and all of society. This does not keep those who wish to stay masked to do so. Parents should absolutely be the decision makers for their children. The science does NOT support continued universal masking of all our young people. The harm done to our children from the loss of learning to depression and anxiety is inexcusable. Every teacher who wants the vaccine has had the opportunity to receive the vaccine. If the vaccines work as advertised, the teachers are at low risk for a severe case of Covid. Data tell us that our children are at extremely low risk for a severe case. Most, if not all of the juvenile deaths had comorbidities that contributed to the tragic deaths of those children. Bottom line; get the politics out of this. I know the virus is real. I also know the response has been nothing but political. Stop this nonsense. Thank you.

Last Name: Hosang Locality: Williamsburg

I support this bill to Amend!!!

Last Name: Graham Locality: Midlothian

I’m opposed to ending the mask mandate for public schools, at this time. There are pre K students who are not yet vaccinated, as well as immunocompromised students, teachers and staff and their families, who require the protection provided by universal masking. We all look forward to the day that Covid-19 and all of the variants are under control, but we are not there yet, unfortunately. Hopefully, we have learned that we need to be prepared with a couple of months of virtual lessons for every class, should another emergency arise, causing schools to need to close. To legislate that all education be in person, is simply irresponsible. Vote No! on SB 739.

Last Name: Dykstra Locality: James City County

This Bill needs to be passed and effective immediately to remove any doubt from the tyrannical hold out school boards that are clinging to useless, unscientific, unhealthy, and unwanted mandates for wear of face masks by school children. There are no scientific data supporting this abusive policy, but there is overwhelming evidence of the harmful effects of mask wear by children. The Covid emergency measures may have seemed prudent at one time, but are now almost universally seen as misguided and a huge waste of time and resources. Remove the mask mandates and all Covid mandates immediately..

Last Name: Burke Locality: Toano, VA

Pass SB739 to ensure parent's rights to care for their children is encoded into law for the issue of mask wear in school. The bill should also allow teachers to unmask because that's the second half of the learning equation--seeing the teacher's face and hearing the teacher's voice. In reality, Federal Law already allows for mask choice--see the Emergency Use Authorization law for Covid medical devices (vax, test, and masks). But nobody follows it. And to go one step further to the real heart of the problem, no one, from the President of the U.S. down to a school board or teacher, has the right to tell any child or adult to wear a mask. The General Assembly needs to (re)encode our rights to medical and bodily autonomy instead of piece-mealing all these fixes to correct the abuse of human rights that over occurred since the pandemic started. This bill is great for now. But go to the heart of the problem. Why does a school board even think they have the right to "mandate" masks?

Last Name: Wickman Organization: VEA Locality: Stafford

Good morning Delegates, I'd like to express my concern over SB739, and its impact on local regulating bodies. The bill provides no recourse to school divisions that may need to move to virtual learning in case of non-weather related emergencies or staffing shortages. Circumstances such as these are unpredictable in nature, and unique to individual school districts. This bill effectively ties the hands of local school boards, removing their autonomy and prohibiting them from making decisions to best serve their communities in unexpected situations. Please consider that local governing entities understand the unique needs of their constituents. Preserve democracy and respect the position of our locally elected representatives by voting NO on SB739. Thank you for your consideration. Michele Wickman, M.Ed., NBCT Stafford County Public Schools

Last Name: Charles Locality: Moseley

As a citizen of Virginia and the United States. We must protect our children from harmful mandates. Please support SB739. It's time to remove the mask and never implement again.

Last Name: Ebenezer Locality: Oakton

PLEASE give parents their rights back in Virginia. No one should be allowed to force me to put a mask over my child’s nose and mouth. No one should be able to force me to inject an experimental drug into my child’s body. No one should be treating children differently based on if they are masked or vaccinated!!

Last Name: Fogarty Locality: Yorktown

My son is 10 years old. He is immune compromised. If a child is not wearing a mask, and comes to school with COVID-19, they will kill him. Wearing a mask protects the other person not the person wearing it. If my child takes his mask off for any reason and his teacher has to tell him to put it back on, his personal health information will be identified. My sons district is not offering a virtual school option next year. This will take away his access to a free and public education. We hold a responsibility as adults to protect children, not to appease other adults who do not understand science.

Last Name: Webb Locality: Alleghany County

Where there is risk there must be choice and there are many emotional and physical risks with full day mask wearing. The most frustrating part of this 'pandemic' has been in sending my kids to school in masks and watching their health and emotional well being decline - all while having a school board stating they could not do anything about it. Our particular school board offered only a medical exemption available this fall - and if you signed it, you also signed over full access to your children's medical records. Freedom of religion has not been honored nor has the Virginia State Law - Rights of Parents... nor have they honored Governor Youngkins Executive Order #2. It is not the place of government (local, state or federal) to decide what is best for our health care nor is it fair for us to have to decide between our child(ren)'s health or their education. Please continue to support this bill so we the parents gain full control of our children's well being once again. Masks should be optional so every parent can decide what is best for their child(ren). Thank you for your support.

Last Name: Amster Organization: League of Women Voters Locality: warrenton

Public funds for public education only! Our country has relied on public education to create unity and needs it now more than ever. Vouchers, charters, tax incentives for parents to give toi private and/or religious schools --all these are antithetical to American values. Please vote against this and all bills to help privatize education.

End of Comments