RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Glenn Youngkin called on parents to follow school mask mandates in areas that have defied his executive order in an interview with radio station WRVA on Jan. 24.

Youngkin told host John Reid he was confident the courts would rule in the administration’s favor and ultimately allow parents the choice to opt-out of local school mask mandates.

He said parents should “maintain trust in the legal system” as the several lawsuits challenging his executive order go through the courts.

In the meantime, he said parents should “love one another, treat one another with respect – and listen to principals.”

Local chapters of the Virginia Education Association in the Richmond area have spoken out against the executive order that effectively ends local mask mandates. Members of the Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield Education Associations gathered on Jan. 24 to call on local school boards to keep their mask mandates and distribute free KN95 masks in schools.

“Now is not the time to eliminate one of the few mitigation strategies that are available to us,” Katina Harris, a member of the REA, told reporters Monday morning. “We are already facing an overall teacher shortage and an immediate staffing shortage. With this decision to rescind the mask mandate, this will push many of the staff members over the edge and into neighboring districts or out of the profession altogether.”

Youngkin emphasized parental choice during his campaign, calling not only for an end to mask mandates but also for a massive expansion of charter schools. Those stances have also come with frequent digs at the Virginia Education Association, a professional organization representing educators.

“At the end of the day, the education associations continue to look after their own well-being,” Youngkin said on WRVA. “And not the rights of parents and the children.”

Youngkin is now facing a suit filed by six local school boards – including Richmond – arguing that his executive order was unconstitutional and violated state law.