CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — Kathleen Richardson sent her three children to school in Chesterfield on Thursday morning without masks.
This week the Chesterfield School Board voted 3 to 2 to follow Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's executive order giving parents the power to choose whether their children wear masks in school.
“I was so emotional this morning, just seeing not only them, but other kids walking in the school and having to put on a brave face, a big smile and go in and do their day without worrying," Richardson said. “They were really excited.”
"I would say the first indicator for me that this was a good thing was when we told our eight-year-old, she ran around the kitchen island screaming, I'm free," Chesterfield parent, Josh Shepherd, said.
Shepherd said he was happy to send his daughter off to Winterpock Elementary School without a mask on Thursday.
"Like I shouldn't be able to make a decision for your child, and you shouldn't be able to make a decision for my child. We should all be able to make whatever decision we feel is best," Shepherd said.
Chesterfield mother, Joelle Kang, also sent her children to school without a mask, and even reached out to their teachers to let them know she did not want her students to be separated from mask-wearing students.
“I got an amazing response today from one of the teachers and she said, you know, the concerns that you have are non-issues in my classroom and will not be tolerated," Kang said. "This is freedom. And this is America.”
Chesterfield dad Scott Lasowitz said his request to his child's teacher was not accommodated. He asked that his child be allowed to move their desk at least six feet from unmasked classmates.
“I do not want my son to be near an unmasked child or anything that would put them in further harm's way," Lasowitz said. “It should be my choice. If I have to respect somebody else's [choice], then they [should] respect the other parent's choice.”
After he spoke with school leadership, he said the reason his request was denied was that his request did not follow the guidance schools were given.
Another parent, who spoke to CBS 6 and asked to remain anonymous, said the school district was not prepared to go mask optional quite yet.
For example, she said the county only had adult-sized KN-95 masks available to students who requested a mask once at school.
“It seems that as I questioned the size of the masks, and how do I get a kid-sized mask, it only then came to light that they had only ordered adult masks," she said.
She said the deputy superintendent told her kid-sized masks are on order and could arrive within the next several days.
"If they're still on order to be delivered in 10 days, then this is a slap in the face to all your families concerned about health," she said.
Questions about the masks and social distancing in classrooms were sent to the Chesterfield County Schools spokesperson. We are still waiting for official comments.
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