White House press secretary Jen Psaki lit into Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, R., as he fulfilled a campaign promise to allow parents to opt out of school mask mandates.
The newly sworn-in governor quickly met defiance of his executive order from some of Virginia’s bluer areas, including Psaki’s home of Arlington County, as well as Fairfax, Alexandria, and Richmond. Arlington County said in a Saturday statement that its public schools will “continue to require all staff and students to wear masks inside on school grounds and on buses, as part of our layered approach to safety.”
That won the applause of President Biden’s chief spokesperson, who said in August that her kindergartner could wear a mask “all day” after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors. “Hi there,” Psaki tweeted from her personal account . “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.”
The order from Youngkin, whose victory was powered in part by parents fed up with coronavirus mandates and lockdowns, does not prevent students from wearing masks in schools, as some progressives have argued at times. Rather, it allows them to opt out if they choose: “The parents of any child enrolled in a elementary or secondary school or a school based early childcare and educational program may elect for their children not to be subject to any mask mandate in effect at the child’s school or educational program.”
Psaki was sharply criticized by conservatives for speaking out, with some telling Psaki she was free to continue to mask her children and also should heed the will of Virginia voters.