Virginia Governor's mask opt-out executive order temporarily halted by a judge

"Keeping rules in place that have been established over the school year helps children, families and staff understand how they may be impacted during the pandemic."

Nick Monroe Cleveland Ohio

A Virginia Judge said on Friday that Governor Youngkin can’t override local school board officials when it comes to the issue of who has the authority to demand what when it comes to mask mandates. This has led to a temporary pause on Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to choose themselves.

The ruling comes two days after a hearing on the matter held at Arlington County Courthouse.

The response from the Governor's office says in part that Youngkin "will never stop fighting for parents' ability to choose what is best for their children. The governor often said that this is not a pro-mask or anti-mask debate. It's about parents knowing what's best for their child's health, and opting-out should there be a mask mandate."

"Having addressed all aspects of whether a temporary restraining order should issue, the Court concludes that the School Boards’ Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order with regard to optional masking of children should be granted," is what Judge Louise DiMatteo decided.

Further, according to The Washington Post, "at least 70" school districts have defied Youngkin’s executive order by continuing to make masks mandatory.

On his first day in office, Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order that gives parents the personal choice as to whether or not their child must wear a mask at school. It was that same day that seven different school boards filed a lawsuit against this move.

The complaint brought forward was that the Virginia Constitution and Senate Bill 1303 required all school districts in the state to implement COVID response strategies per CDC guidance. The discrepancy at hand is which emergency powers matter more: the Governor’s office, or the authority granted to local school districts.

The "maximum extent practicable" phrase in SB 1303 contributes to the current litigation.

Districts like the Loudoun County Public School system have elected to suspend students who don’t wear masks on their grounds. Over two dozen kids have faced such punishment in recent weeks.

A separate lawsuit against Loudoun County Public Schools is ongoing, and it was filed by parents for the fact educators there failed to comply with Youngkin’s executive order.


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