With Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s new executive order for a statewide school mask mandate taking effect this week, various school districts filed a joint lawsuit on the grounds it is unconstitutional action and endangers the life of students.
Youngkin issued the executive order on Jan. 15 stating that families could opt out of mask mandates at K-12 schools. This order took effect on Monday.
Seven Virginia school boards responded with their lawsuit the same day, arguing that the new policy is unconstitutional action.
“With COVID-19 transmission rates high, our hospitals at crisis level, and the continued recommendation of health experts to retain universal mask-wearing for the time being, this is simply not the time to remove this critical component of layered health and safety mitigation strategies” stated the school boards via the lawsuit.
Signing onto the lawsuit so far are the school boards for Alexandria, Arlington County, Richmond, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Hampton, and Prince William County.
The lawsuit argues the state constitution gives local school boards the authority to run their districts, which should include the decision to require masks. They also request an immediate injunction of Youngkin’s executive order and cite a state law that requires the school system to follow federal health guidelines, which include the use of masks.
According to the lawsuit, the school boards ask that the court resolve the conflict presented by Youngkin’s order so as to preserve their exclusive constitutional authority to supervise the local schools of their division per Article VIII, Section 7 and other provisions of the Constitution of Virginia.
They also ask that the situation be returned to the status quo as it existed before the governor issued the order.
According to a local news article, Macaulay Porter, a spokesperson for Youngkin, stated that the governor’s office is “disappointed that these school boards are acting counter to parent’s rights.”
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