Student opposes Youngkin’s order

Published 6:51 pm Friday, February 4, 2022

To the editor:

I am writing you this letter to add on to the article titled “Mask requirement still stands for SPS” that was published on Jan. 23. I am one of many who fervently oppose the executive order Governor Youngkin has provided, and I wish to put my voice as well as those who agree with me out there in this letter. Suffolk Public Schools is completely in the right to disobey Youngkin’s orders, because COVID is still ongoing and more severe than how it started.

COVID has not disappeared but instead has gotten worse since it began in 2020. The Omicron variant is still running rampant through the entirety of Hampton Roads. The New York Times’ COVID-19 graph shows we are in a current peak nearly double the size of 2021’s peak. I believe those who oppose the mask mandate and the governor himself do not understand how devastating the new variant is. Omicron affects us not because of its symptoms, but by ruining the natural pace of our daily lives. I have seen many of my family members and close family friends catch Omicron and be set back on their productive work by weeks. First, my mother had her paycheck cut in half, and I was unable to assist in paying bills for quarantine reasons. We barely would have made any bills this month if it was not for my father’s help. Second, Omicron even affected my own schoolwork, going far as to nearly cause me to fail in one of my classes. Lastly, my sister-in-law is currently suffering from “long covid,” and feels sluggish after being negative for two weeks.


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The current mask mandate in school is one of the most effective obstacles blocking the virus from spreading even more than it already has. Public schools in Suffolk often have thousands of students switch classes in crowded hallways four times a day. Schools are very vulnerable and hazardous settings because of this, so if Governor’s Youngkin’s order were accepted by Suffolk Public Schools, it would expose thousands of students to the virus, and therefore tens of thousands of people through their families. Not to mention, schools are already struggling with absent teachers and bus drivers. They would only further suffer without the current restrictions put in place.

My family, friends, and I are all glad that Suffolk Public Schools are refusing to listen to Youngkin’s orders. If you decide to publish this, I hope my anecdotes convince the readers to continue to follow CDC guidelines. I can relate to how tired we all are of COVID, but it is not to be taken lightly. Please, continue to wear masks, get vaccinated, and keep our small corner of Virginia safe.

Taha Bilal