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Youngkin signs executive orders to bar 'critical race theory,' COVID-19 mandates

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Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued nine executive orders and two executive directives on Saturday. Among other things, the actions end statewide mask mandates in public schools, rescind the statewide COVID vaccine mandate for state workers and curtail how schools can teach students about racism.

Executive Order 1: Directs state education officials to end use of “inherently divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory,” a term some Republicans use broadly to refer to lessons on systemic racism and its role in U.S. history. The order says “political indoctrination has no place in our classrooms.” It directs Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow to review and end or remove state education policies, practices or materials “that promote or endorse divisive or inherently racist concepts.”

Executive Order 2: Rescinds the statewide mask mandate for public school students and says parents may exempt their children from local school systems’ mask mandates.

Executive Order 3: Fires members of the Virginia Parole Board and names five new members: Circuit Court Judge Chadwick Dotson of Wise County as chair; Tracy Banks of Charlottesville; Cheryl Nici-O’Connell of Chesterfield County; Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin; and Carmen Williams of Chesterfield. In 1984, Nici-O’Connell was a 24-year-old Richmond police officer, working off duty outside the Richmond Marriott, when Kenneth Wayne Woodfin shot her in the head in a crime rampage. Nici-O’Connell recently led an effort to block Woodfin from being released on parole. Executive Order 3 also directs the secretary of public safety to review the parole board’s duties, procedures and administration.

Executive Order 4: Authorizes Attorney General Jason Miyares to investigate Loudoun County’s public schools, where a teenage student committed sexual assaults at two schools. Youngkin’s directive asserts that Loudoun’s School Board and school administrators “withheld key details and knowingly lied to parents.”

Executive Order 5: Directs Chief Transformation Officer Eric Moeller to initiate reviews of the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Virginia Employment Commission.

Executive Order 6: Directs the Safety and Health Codes Board to convene an emergency meeting to discuss whether there is a continued need for employer COVID-19 standards. Former Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration issued the workplace standards that set down rules for how business should prevent the spread of COVID.

Executive Order 7: Sets up a commission to prevent human trafficking and provide support to victims.

Executive Order 8: Establishes a commission to combat antisemitism, noting that Virginia is the home of Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious Freedom and that “our nation and our commonwealth have seen an intolerable rise in antisemitism in recent years.”

Executive Order 9: Takes steps to withdraw Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which is designed to reduce emissions from power plants. Youngkin has called it a tax on electricity ratepayers.

Executive Directive 1: Directs Executive Branch entities under Youngkin’s authority to cut by 25% regulations not mandated by federal or state law.

Executive Directive 2: Rescinds the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all state employees.

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acain@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6645

Twitter: @AndrewCainRTD

Staff writer Mel Leonor contributed to this report.

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