Brabrand urges continued mask wearing despite Youngkin executive order

FCPS will continue to require masks for students and staff, said superintendent Scott Brabrand during a town hall meeting on Monday.

The meeting was in response to Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Jan. 15 Executive Order allowing parents to decide whether their children wear masks in school. This order is now being challenged in court, with a lawsuit filed by FCPS and six other school districts, as well as by a group of parents in Chesapeake, Virginia.

“We are confident that we have a strong legal case,” Brabrand said. “Our focus remains on the health and safety of our students and staff.”

Brabrand, joined by assistant superintendent for special services Michelle Boyd, also said in-school transmission rates are at less than half a percent and reported masks infractions have been below 0.03% of all students since the return to in-person instruction.

“This is a manifestation of the work of our students, our parents and our staff working together to provide an environment safe for all,” Boyd said.

In response to concerns over the efficacy of cloth masks, Brabrand said that FCPS would not be changing requirements for masks types, instead asking that students and staff continue to ensure their masks are correctly sized and fit snugly.

Another meeting participant expressed concern over preparations for anti-mask protesters, but Brabrand said he was “confident that the community [would] continue to understand the rationale” of FCPS’s decision. According to reporting from WTOP, FCPS said only 24 students out of the roughly 180,000 across the county did not comply with the mask mandate on January 25, the first school day when the executive order was in effect.

“While we might have different opinions around mask wearing, we are still one community, one Fairfax, and we need to come together for the benefit of our students,” Brabrand said.