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Glenn Youngkin sworn in as Virginia’s 74th governor, vows to lift school mask mandate

Republican defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in closely contested race.

Published: January 15, 2022 8:28am

Updated: January 15, 2022 2:14pm

Glenn Youngkin was sworn in as the 74th Governor of Virginia on Saturday, becoming the first Republican to hold that post in over a dozen years. 

Youngkin, who defeated Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe in November, was sworn in shortly after noon in Richmond, the state's capital.

In a press release shortly after his inauguration, the new governor revealed nearly a dozen new executive orders aimed at policies such as "ending the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education," "allowing parents to make decisions on whether their child wears a mask in school," and "combat[ting] and prevent[ing] human trafficking and provid[ing] support to survivors."

In a TV interview days before he was sworn in, Youngkin had vowed to lift a mask mandate for students and K-12 grades.

“We’re gonna rescind the mandate that requires K-12 children to wear a mask to school, and we’ve been quite clear about that,” he told WTKR-TV in Norfolk.

The race between the two candidates — with McAuliffe vying for a second shot at the governor's mansion after previously winning the seat in 2014 — was focused largely on contentious issues of education, the COVID pandemic, and public spending. 

Youngkin's swearing-in ends over a decade of Democratic dominance of the governor's office in the state. The 2021 election also saw Republicans taking back control of the state Legislature's House of Delegates.

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