The Accomack County School Board will conduct their regular monthly meeting Tuesday night. The meeting will get underway at 6 pm at Metompkin Elementary School. It is expected that the Board will get an earful during public comments concerning the mask mandate currently in effect in the school system. Several states have already started to pull the mask mandates in schools back. This will be the first meeting of the School Board where public comments will be heard since the mandate was continued . The vote was taken in open session. At that time, the Omicron variant was peaking resulting in numerous absences among school staff and students. But locally the number of daily test positives has declined rather dramatically over the last three weeks following a worldwide pattern of hitting and declining quickly.
Legislation is pending in the House of Delegates that would eliminate the mandates statewide. The bill was passed by the Senate last week and is expected to be fast tracked through the House of Delegates. An amendment allowing the bill to take effect immediately would have to be passed by both chambers but it is expected that both would approve. It is predicted that the mask mandate ban in schools could become effective as early as February 21 or soon thereafter.
Meanwhile, the number of cases is steadily declining both locally, statewide, nationwide and world wide as well.
Since the beginning of the pandemic two years ago the Eastern Shore Health District reported 8974 total test positives, 529 hospitalizations and 153 deaths. In the 0-20 year old category there were 1784 test positives , but only 14 hospitalizations and no deaths.
If the pending legislation is passed, parents will be able to opt out of any mask mandates imposed by the local school systems. There will be no excuses needed and school systems will not be able to penalize any students for not wearing a mask. However if any parents want their child to wear a mask at school, that will be allowed. Staff members who choose to mask up will also be allowed to do so.
One indicator of public opinion could be the 2021 Governor’s election results in Accomack County. Glen Youngkin who was elected on a parents rights platform received 61% of the votes in Accomack County.
We have been informed that the vote at the January meeting was taken in open session. We have corrected the story.