A lawsuit against Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order regarding school masks is set to be heard in Arlington Circuit Court on Wednesday afternoon.
The case is scheduled for 1 p.m. as seven Virginia school boards fight against the order that tells families they have the ability to opt-out of mask mandates if they want.
“A child whose parent has elected that he or she is not subject to a mask mandate should not be required to wear a mask under any policy implemented by a teacher, school, school district, the Department of Education or any other state authority,” the order stated.
Numerous school systems have continued to require masks for all students.
“We granted parents the options of deciding whether they want their child to wear a mask or not,” Youngkin told WTOP after he signed the order last month. “We will use every resource within the governor’s authority to explore what we can do and will do to make sure that parents’ rights are protected.”
The seven school boards that filed the lawsuit are asking the court to immediately block Youngkin’s order, arguing it violates state law.
Specifically, the boards claim local school systems have the authority to implement their own policies on masks and that state law directs them to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends that students wear masks.
The school boards that filed the suit represent more than 350,000 students. They include the boards in Fairfax County, Alexandria, Arlington County, Falls Church, Prince William County, Richmond and Hampton.
After Youngkin signed the order, Virginia Del. Patrick Hope of Arlington County argued that the governor had “no authority at all” to determine how mandates operate at individual school systems.
“We are governed by the Virginia code,” Hope told WTOP. “The Virginia code states very clearly that school districts should adhere by the CDC’s recommendations.”
The lawsuit filed by the seven school systems is not the only legal challenge against Youngkin’s order: A group of parents in Chesapeake Public Schools filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Virginia, arguing that the order violates state law.
Additionally, some parents of Virginia children with disabilities are suing Youngkin, claiming that his order leaves the children vulnerable to serious illness if they contract COVID-19 and in effect violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
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