Liz McCormick Published

W.Va. House Considers Bill Prohibiting Mask Mandates In Schools

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The West Virginia House of Delegates is considering a bill that would prohibit public K-12 schools and county boards of education from mandating masks for its students and employees.

The House Education Committee passed HB 4071 after about an hour of discussion Wednesday afternoon.

The bill would create the Parent and Student Health Rights Act, which would prohibit West Virginia public schools, the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, and any appointed or elected county school officials from requiring masks.

The bill would also prohibit any COVID-19 testing or quarantine requirements, unless a student or employee is actively showing symptoms of the coronavirus. Parents or guardians would have the sole authority on whether a child should be masked.

“I’ve heard overwhelmingly from my district. I’ve heard overwhelmingly from all of the interested parties discussed here today, and I think it’s time to empower parents, empower individuals, to start making these decisions,” said Del. Jordan Maynor, R-Raleigh, who is the bill’s lead sponsor.

Across the aisle, Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, felt differently.

“There are certain things where the parents are right. There are other things, other issues, where the greatest amount of knowledge is in the hands of a school system,” Doyle said. “And there are yet others where the decision is best made by public health officials.”

House Education Minority Chair Del. Sean Hornbuckle, D-Cabell, offered an amendment to the bill that would have allowed a masking mandate in times of a declared state of emergency, but it failed.

HB 4071 now goes to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration.