February 9, 2022

Da’Quan Love, Executive Director


Virginia NAACP Issues Statement Against Optional Mask Wearing in School Amidst Virginia Senate’s Passage of SB 739

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) abhors the passage of Senate Bill 739 (SB 739) with Senator Chap Petersen’s amendment where parents are allowed to opt their child out of wearing a mask in school without an explanation required.

“It is disappointing to the Virginia NAACP that Senator Chap Petersen would put forth such an amendment that will knowingly harm the health and safety of our children, teaching staff, and staff personnel in schools,” said Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr. “His sly tactics will now increase the odds that hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s children may spread and contract COVID-19 while in school.”

SB 739 now, more than before, demonstrates a relentless disregard for the well-being of Virginia’s children and makes schools less safe and inaccessible; especially for our children of color who are already detrimentally and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and behind because of discriminatory barriers in our education systems.

The Virginia NAACP stands by science and the CDC’s guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools, and with that comes the requirement of masks for our children. Requiring masks in schools is a preventative measure and we will continue to support and encourage all children to wear masks at school and on school buses. To be on any other side is an outright failure to protect the health of the most innocent among us, children.

Virginia NAACP urges all NAACP members and allies to take bold action against SB 739 and urges the House of Delegates upon receipt of SB 739 to reject the bill’s blatant failure to protect school children from the deadly COVID-19 virus and therefore, take all necessary steps to protect students, teachers, administrators, and all school staff.

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Founded in 1935, the Virginia State Conference of NAACP Branches (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth, overseeing over 100 NAACP branches, youth councils, and college chapters. The Virginia NAACP is the preeminent voice of Black Virginians and advocates for policies and programs to benefit Blacks and people of color. You can read more about the Virginia NAACP’s work and our six “Game Changer” issue areas by visiting