Virginia’s new governor rescinds mask and vaccine mandates for schools, state employees on first day
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Virginia’s new governor rescinds mask and vaccine mandates for schools, state employees on first day

Glenn Youngkin, Virigina’s first Republican governor to win statewide office since 2009, signed 11 executive orders on his first day that include banning “critical race theory” and rescinding vaccine mandates for state employees.

In his inauguration speech Saturday, Youngkin mentioned education as his policy priority. He promised to raise standards of education and teacher pay, and stated that he would “remove politics from the classroom.” His executive order that bans the teaching of critical race theory calls the framework “divisive,” prompting criticism from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

Youngkin lamented the school shutdowns and the economic difficulties that have followed the pandemic. While doing so, he has also signed an executive order to “empower” Virginia parents in their children’s education and upbringing by allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school. Additionally, he issued an executive directive to “restore individual freedoms and personal privacy by rescinding the vaccine mandate for all state employees.”

Other executive orders that the governor signed included establishing a commission to combat antisemitism, withdrawing from a regional greenhouse gas reduction initiative and declaring Virginia “open for business.” He also signed several directives including one that will cut “job killing regulations” by 25%.

As a first-time elected official, Youngkin takes office in the midst of two emergencies- a 30-day limited state of emergency aimed at the state’s hospitals that are struggling under the hike of coronavirus cases, and another ahead of a snowstorm predicted to hit Virginia on Sunday.