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Seven school districts in Virginia sue governor over his order making masks in schools optional

Jan. 25, 2022
The school boards argue that the executive order usurps their local control

Seven Virginia school districts have sued to block enforcement of Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools.

The districts suing all have been requiring masks, The Washington Post reports. They are the Fairfax County district — the state's largest; Alexandria City Public Schools; Arlington Public Schools; Falls Church City Public Schools; Hampton City Schools; Prince William County Public Schools; and Richmond Public Schools.

The lawsuit seeks an immediate injunction barring enforcement of Youngkin's order. It was issued on Jan. 15, his first day in office and went into effect on Monday. It allows families to opt out of mask mandates that have been put in place by local school district. 

Youngkin's decision to let parents make masking choices for their children contravenes federal health guidance. 

The districts' lawsuit asserts that the governor's executive order violates the Virginia Constitution, which states that “the supervision of schools in each school division shall be vested in a school board.”

The districts also argue that the order contradicts a state law passed last year that requires Virginia school districts to follow federal health guidelines to the “maximum extent practicable.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends masking inside K-12 schools for everyone over age two, regardless of vaccination status.

Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement that “the governor and attorney general are in coordination and are committed to aggressively defending parents’ fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child’s upbringing, education and care, as the legal process plays out.”

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