Judge Sides With Pro-Mandate Schools, Reverses VA Governor’s Ban On Mask Mandates

The fight over masking Virginia’s school children will go on for at least a while longer. Virginia’s new Republican Governor issued an executive order temporarily stopping the execution of a pro-mask mandated school board. This was ruled by a Virginia judge. Glenn Youngkin says that schools should not have to use masks.

Youngkin’s order, which they claim is against Virginia’s constitution, has been sued by seven Virginia school boards. 

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The Law

Louise M. DiMatteo of the Virginia Circuit supported school boards in this ruling. Her reference was to a Virginia law that required schools to follow the CDC COVID-19 guidelines.

Judge DiMatteo’s ruling was as follows:

“While the General Assembly has granted the Governor significant and sweeping general powers to address an emergency, when confronted with a specific statute addressing the manner in which in-person learning can resume and directs local school boards to follow the guidance of the CDC, ‘the maximum extent practicable,’ it does not follow that the Governor, even in an emergency, can direct School Boards to ignore the General Assembly’s deference to CDC guidance and to abandon their considered determination about what is practicable.”

The state legislature must repeal the law.

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Parents Searching for an Option to Opt out

Prior to Judge Dimatteo’s ruling on Friday, Youngkin asked the circuit court if he could join another lawsuit brought by a group of Loudoun County parents who oppose the school board’s mask mandate. 

A spokeswoman for the Virginia Attorney General’s office says there is no difference between the executive powers that Youngkin is using and that of his predecessor, Gov. Ralph Northam.

“Two years into this pandemic, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day. Face masks are an option that parents can opt out of. We believe it is in the children’s best interest to do so. We now respectfully wait for the court’s decision and guidance and will not be commenting further.”

An official for Gov. Youngkin says they will appeal the Judge’s ruling.