An executive order about mask-wearing inside schools by new Virginia Governor Glen Youngkin went into effect Monday morning.
A few hours after the order went into effect, officials announced that school boards of seven school districts filed a lawsuit to challenge Youngkin’s executive order.
Alexandria City, Arlington County, City of Richmond, Fairfax County, Falls Church City, Hampton City, and Prince William County are the confirmed school districts that will maintain their universal mask mandates despite the order.
Prince William County School officials confirmed in a statement that the lawsuit was filed in Arlington County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit comes after 13 parents from Chesapeake City Public Schools filed a lawsuit last Tuesday in the Virginia Supreme Court asking for the governor’s executive order to be suspended until the court ruled on its legality.
Youngkin’s order rescinds the requirement of masks in public schools and allows parents to choose whether their child wears a mask in school.
Some schools in the area said they would continue their mask mandates. However, some parents plan to send their children to school without masks.
“The legal action, representing over 350,000 students across the state, defends the right. of school boarts to enact policy at the local level, including policies that protect the health and well-being of all students and staff,” officials in a statement.
The lawsuit also looks at whether a governor can, through executive order, without legislative action by the Virginia General Assembly. This refers to Senate Bill V1303, which says local school boards should follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance related to universal mask-wearing in schools.
The school districts included in the lawsuit were among the long list of schools that announced they would continue their mask mandate despite the order.
Ahead of Monday, Youngkin asked parents to “listen to school principals and trust the legal process.”
“I have said all along that we are going to stand up for parents. Executive Order 2 is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents. I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in favor of parents, reaffirming the parental rights clearly laid out in the Virginia coder 1-240.1. In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal and trust the legal process,” Youngkin said.
While some parents understand the “well-being” and safety of staff and students on school property, other parents are still not on-board with the executive order.
Last Thursday, a woman in Virginia threatened school board officials while they met to vote on whether to lift a mask requirement.
Amelia King made an oral threat on school property after she was cut off during a public comment section of the Page County public school board meeting on Thursday, the Luray Police Department said in a statement.
— Travis Allen (@TravisAllen02) January 21, 2022
“My children will not come to school on Monday with a mask on. That’s not happening, and I will bring every single gun loaded and ready,” King told board members after her three-minute comment period ended.
Last week Youngkin said: “This body passed a law that protects a parent’s fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of their children.”
Youngkin also said he’d use “every resource” within the governor’s authority to protect the rights of the parents. He just asked for parents to take this time to “trust the legal process.”