Youngkin begins term as Virginia governor with executive actions on critical race theory, masks in schools

At least one district said it will defy his executive order on masks and continue to require them for students and staff.
By: | January 18, 2022

Republican Glenn Youngkin began his term as governor of Virginia on Saturday with executive actions that tackle education and the COVID-19 pandemic, including a ban on critical race theory in public schools and a lifting of school mask requirements.

Youngkin, the first Republican to win statewide office in Virginia since 2009, signed nine executive orders and two executive directives following his swearing-in. Youngkin said the executive actions are “important steps” that launches “the work of restoring excellence in education, making our communities safer, opening Virginia for business and reinvigorating job growth, and making government work for the people, and not the other way around.”

The first executive order from the governor prohibits the teaching of “inherently divisive concepts,” including critical race theory, an academic concept developed by legal scholars to examine the ongoing effects of racism in American policies and institutions. The issue became a flash point in the Virginia governor’s race and a lightning rod for conservatives. At least half the states have sought to restrict the teaching of critical race theory or limit how teachers can discuss racism and sexism.

Following his executive order to remove school mask requirements statewide, Arlington Public Schools announced Saturday there would be no change to its mask requirements, with the face coverings still required for staff and students inside school grounds and on buses.

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