Politics Vs. Policies


Art by Sirius Nicholson

Virginia’s local schools are surging with Covid-19 cases, and with new variants up on the rise, students and staff are missing days and weeks of class. Anti maskers voted in Governor Youngkin for his promise to remove mask mandates, even during these surreal times. With parents and the school board disagreeing with the Governers viewpoint, the removal act has since been rejected by multiple school boards across the state – Stafford County being one of the few. 

      Since the decline of the removal act, the state has become divided – some parents even joining in on school board meetings to complain about their kids wearing masks. One chairwoman for Stafford County Schools, Alyassa Halstead, called herself a “huge opponent” of the mask mandate in an article on her website.

 Halstead also wrote that if the schools continue to “quarantine” and “isolate” the kids then “we cannot create consistency in education for kids,” according to the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. This thought process is irrational because bringing sick students back into school could cause a rise in cases; causing less time for students in the classroom. 

“I don’t feel good about it, half of the people don’t wear their mask properly anyway, so I think for them It’s like ‘oh my god finally’ but I think for a lot of other people It’s not just about protecting yourself It’s about protecting other people” Senior Lana DiPaul said about the optional mask policy. 

 Students here in Virginia have mixed opinions about the changes in the state. Only 51.4% of students think wearing masks is useful according to data taken by SHS Pubs.  Amid the skyrocketing cases of Covid in schools, 35% of Stafford High School students do not think masks work – even with the CDC recommending it. 

Covid cases were declining in 2021, and with a new election coming in November,  right-wing voters saw their opportunity to put an end to mask mandates. Now, with 2022 just three months in, cases took their highest leap in January 2022 to 18,000 average daily cases according to the New York Times. 

Governor Younkin ran on a platform of removing mask mandates for Virginia schools – even with covid cases rising. Youngkin’s hurd of anti maskers were all for his decision. His promises about school change were a major main reason he was voted in on November 6, 2021. What could we expect for the future? Virginia can expect a huge rise in Covid-19 cases in all schools and counties across the state, and fear could rise among students and parents because of this. Youngkin and Virginia school boards have continued with moving on with the optional mask mandate, and with the cases rising, the future will show the true impact the decision will have on schools and students…