Virginia NAACP Issues Statement Against Optional Mask Wearing in School Amidst Virginia Senate’s Passage of SB 739

Da’Quan Love, Executive Director

RICHMOND, VA – The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP (Virginia NAACP) abhors the passage of Senate Bill 739 (SB 739) with Senator Chap Petersen’s amendment where parents are allowed to opt their child out of wearing a mask in school without an explanation required.

“It is disappointing to the Virginia NAACP that Senator Chap Petersen would put forth such an amendment that will knowingly harm the health and safety of our children, teaching staff, and staff personnel in schools,” said Virginia NAACP President Robert N. Barnette, Jr. “His sly tactics will now increase the odds that hundreds of thousands of Virginia’s children may spread and contract COVID-19 while in school.”

SB 739 now, more than before, demonstrates a relentless disregard for the well-being of Virginia’s children and makes schools less safe and inaccessible; especially for our children of color who are already detrimentally and disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and behind because of discriminatory barriers in our education systems.

The Virginia NAACP stands by science and the CDC’s guidance for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools, and with that comes the requirement of masks for our children. Requiring masks in schools is a preventative measure and we will continue to support and encourage all children to wear masks at school and on school buses. To be on any other side is an outright failure to protect the health of the most innocent among us, children.

Virginia NAACP urges all NAACP members and allies to take bold action against SB 739 and urges the House of Delegates upon receipt of SB 739 to reject the bill’s blatant failure to protect school children from the deadly COVID-19 virus and therefore, take all necessary steps to protect students, teachers, administrators, and all school staff.

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Chartered in 1935, the NAACP Virginia State Conference (Virginia NAACP) is the oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization in the Commonwealth. The Virginia NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for civil rights due to Black Virginians. Representing over 100 NAACP adult branches, youth councils, and college chapters, together, we fight to build the social and political power required to abolish racial discrimination in localities throughout Virginia. To learn more about the work of the Virginia NAACP and the issues we advocate for, visit

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