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If there is a consistency with the Biden administration when it comes to the pandemic, it’s that science is only as important as to the extent that it supports the prescribed political agenda.
While there are times when it’s best to just leave well enough alone, don’t tell White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who felt compelled to cheer for Arlington Public Schools for openly defying Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s ban on mask mandates at public schools — never mind that Psaki interacts daily with reporters without wearing a face mask.
Youngkin signed a series of executive orders on his first day in office, including one that bans critical race theory, but it was the order giving parents the option to opt out of any requirement that their children wear masks that created the dust up.
The order reads: “A child whose parent has elected that he or she is not subject to a mask mandate should not be required to wear a mask under any policy implemented by a teacher, school, school district, the Department of Education, or any other state authority.”
Arlington Public Schools responded to the executive order on Saturday to say masks will continue to be required “inside our facilities and on school buses,” and Youngkin was asked about this by a reporter on Sunday.
“Well, first of all, we wrote the order specifically to give all the school systems basically eight days to get ready. To listen to parents. The fact that that tweet came out from Arlington County within minutes of my executive order, what that tells me is they haven’t listened to parents yet,” the Republican governor said. “If there’s one thing that hopefully everybody heard in November it is time to listen to parents.”
“So, over the course of this week, I hope they will listen to parents,” he continued. “Because we will use every resource within the governor’s authority to explore what we can do and will do in order to make sure that parents’ rights are protected.”
Psaki responded to a video clip of Youngkin’s remarks in a tweet, “”Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong). Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.”
Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong). Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant. https://t.co/6UeNIYoZCU
— Jen Psaki (@jrpsaki) January 17, 2022
Psaki famously declared back in April, when asked about children wearing masks, “From personal experience, my rising kindergartener told me two days ago she could wear a mask all day and she’s just happy to go to camp and go to school.”
With Psaki presenting herself as an “Arlington county parent,” this brought on the obvious question: “Your kids attend public schools?”
Your kids attend public schools? https://t.co/iUSuPRajUA
— Jon Gabriel (@exjon) January 17, 2022
School officials in Arlington released a fuller statement saying they were following existing law that compels schools to follow Centers for Disease Control and prevention guidance.
The statement read: “Arlington Public Schools implemented our mask requirement this school year prior to Governor Northam’s K-12 mask mandate, and we will continue to make decisions that prioritize the health, safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, following the guidance of local and national health professionals. Current law in Virginia, per SB1303, says: school divisions need to ‘provide such in-person instruction in a manner in which it adheres, to the maximum extent practicable, to any currently applicable mitigation strategies for early childhood care and education programs and elementary and secondary schools to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 that have been provided by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.'”
At least one other school district followed suit, as seen on Twitter.
“ACPS will continue to abide by the health and safety guidelines of the CDC and the Alexandria Health Department and continue to require all individuals to wear masks that cover the nose and mouth in ACPS schools, facilities and buses,” Alexandria City Schools announced in a tweet.
Of course, lost in mix here is that there is little science that supports the idea that children wearing loosely fitting cloth masks are any better protected from COVID-19, although there are many reports suggesting that wearing masks for hours on end effects children both physiologically and psychologically.
Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:
Jen, if for some reason you want to mask your children, you are still free to do so. This isn’t a ban on masks, this is a ban on *forced masking* of children against other parents’ wishes.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) January 17, 2022
Youngkin is Governor. He beat your candidate. Data shows forced masking of kids doesn’t make schools safer, but there are established downsides for students to wearing them. If you want your kid to wear one forever, that’s your prerogative. Other parents disagree. https://t.co/r7p9mV3wLI
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 17, 2022
Someone, please ask her at the briefing tomorrow why kids have to wear masks all day long but she doesn’t when speaking to journos indoors. https://t.co/fUngUC0sl0
— Greg Pollowitz (@GPollowitz) January 17, 2022
Notice you didn’t say public school parent https://t.co/Ta46SfVavv
— Jacek Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) January 17, 2022
Wow so insurrectiony https://t.co/iUQm7ULcuF
— Ben Domenech (@bdomenech) January 17, 2022
.@Vermeullarmine has made this point many times. Liberal Exec Orders are zealously enforced with 0 hesitation. Any conservative EO is instantly questioned by those enforcing it. Youngkin shouldn’t be judged by his EOs. He should be judged by his will to have them enforced. https://t.co/IP9I5HvWEB
— Bradley Devlin (@bradleydevlin) January 17, 2022
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