WINCHESTER — Miles Adkins, a candidate for the Frederick County School Board's Shawnee District seat, told board members on Tuesday night that they need to "stand up" against the state when it comes to its curriculum and mask mandates.
"You guys have the protection, the luxury of passing it off to the state," Adkins said during the public comment portion of Tuesday night's board meeting. "It's time to stand up. Fight for the people in the community and fight for those children and for the parents to make their own decisions."
His comment followed another person who called face mask mandates "child abuse."
On Wednesday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's administration issued new guidance on COVID-19 prevention measures for the upcoming school year that urge but don't require continued masking in many circumstances.
The recommendations urge school divisions for now to adopt a universal masking policy for students and adults in elementary schools, regardless of vaccination status, because no vaccine has been approved yet for children under 12. They also recommend that "at minimum" unvaccinated middle and high school students and staff be required to wear masks indoors.
But school divisions will be able implement mask policies based on community level conditions and public health recommendations.
Frederick County Public Schools plans to return to in-person learning five days per week on Aug. 23.
The American Association of Pediatrics also announced its recommendation that universal mask policies be implemented in schools this fall for anyone over the age of 2. Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended masking in schools only for unvaccinated people over the age of 2.
Back Creek District School Board member Brandon Monk said he will keep the community updated on mask mandate policies as they develop.
"I admit it can be frustrating for many parents in the community as they look to make decisions for their children," Monk said.
Adkins also claimed that critical race theory is being mandated by the state to be taught in local classrooms. Both state and local school division officials have said it is not being taught in the classroom.
His comments follow those made last week by Frederick County Board of Supervisors member Shawn Graber that he wanted to explore the possibility of making the county a constitutional sanctuary. He said that would mean that any law or ordinance passed at the federal or state levels would not be enforced if it's considered unconstitutional by the county.
Attending Tuesday night's regular Frederick County School Board meeting held in-person at 1415 Amherst St. and streamed live on YouTube included Frederick County Superintendent David Sovine and School Board Chairman Jay Foreman, Vice Chairwoman Shontyá Washington and members Brian Hester, Bradley Comstock, Frank Wright, Brandon Monk and Michael Lake.