Psaki hits Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin over mask mandate ban

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki blasted newly inaugurated Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin (R) on Sunday for instituting a new rule allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates in the state. 

“Hi there. Arlington county parent here (don’t believe you are @GlennYoungkin but correct me if I am wrong),” Psaki tweeted on Sunday. “Thank you to @APSVirginia for standing up for our kids, teachers and administrators and their safety in the midst of a transmissible variant.”

Youngkin signed the executive order in effect banning mask mandates in the state on his first day in office on Saturday, fulfilling a campaign promise to Virginia voters, but the Arlington County school district has said they will not back off on their mask mandate.

Why does she care?

Psaki is an Arlington County resident and at least one of her children attends Arlington County schools as a kindergartener. Psaki had said during a previous press briefing on masks that her kindergartener was able to wear a mask all day without an issue.

Conservatives on Twitter quickly told Psaki that she was ridiculous to make a big deal about Youngkin’s mandate. After all, they reasoned, if she still wanted her child to wear a mask, she could certainly do so.

And with an N95, they reason, her child would be protected whether others wore masks or not.

“I have read the order and Jen is welcome to do for her child as she pleases,” CNN’s Mary Katharine Ham tweeted. “Given that the effective masks are fitted N95s, she definitely doesn’t need to worry about my kids if her kid has the good gear.”

“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,” Fox News contributor Mollie Hemingway wrote.

Defunding possible

The new order goes into effect on January 24, and Youngkin has said schools that don’t comply may face state-level defunding.

Youngkin also banned the “teaching of divisive concepts,” such as Critical Race Theory, in Virginia schools on his first day in office.

A big part of his popularity at election time came from denouncing teachers’ unions and school boards that tried to stop parents from speaking out against CRT and COVID policies.

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