A judge in northern Virginia issued a temporary restraining orders against Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order, which allows parents to opt out of local school mask requirements for their children. ,
Louise M. DiMatteo, Arlington County Circuit Court judge, wrote that Youngkin does not have the power to override decisions of local school boards. She cited a law that was passed last year by Democrats and requires that school boards prioritize instruction in person while adhering to COVID-19 mitigation strategies.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends that all children (aged 2 and over), teachers, staff, and visitors to K-12 schools be exposed to indoor masking, regardless of their vaccination status.
“While the General Assembly has given to the Governor substantial and sweeping general powers in order to address an emergency-it does not follow the Governor can, even in an immediate emergency, direct the school boards ignore the General Assembly’s deference to CDC guidelines and abandon their considered determination regarding what is feasible regarding those mitigation strategies,” DiMatteo wrote.
Youngkin’s executive orders fulfill a campaign promise about “parents rights” and specifically states that parents of children in “elementary school-based early child care” may choose for their children to not be subject to any mask mandate at their school.
The document states that parents don’t have to give a reason why their child is being opted out of school and that they shouldn’t be forced to wear masks “under any policy that’s been implemented by teachers, schools, school districts, the Department of Education or any other state agency.”
After Youngkin’s January enactment, Fairfax County, Prince William County and Hampton filed a complaint.
Macaulay Porter, spokesperson for Youngkin, stated that they will appeal the court decision and “this was just the first step of the judicial process.”
“The governor will not stop fighting for parents’ right to choose the best for their children. This is not an anti-mask or pro-mask debate, as the governor frequently stated. Porter stated that it’s all about parents making decisions for their child’s well-being and deciding whether a mandate should be placed on them.
“More voices, both from the scientific community and the medical community, are questioning the effectiveness of a universal mask mandate for kids. It’s about their child’s health, and who is best able to make that decision.
DiMatteo stated that a rule that allowed parents to choose whether to hide their children would cause irreparable harm, but she refused to comment on whether school mask mandates are effective.
She wrote that “It is evident that the Governor views universal masking costs as greater than the benefits it may confer and attempts to achieve a new approach to COVID transmission within the school setting.” “To challenge the validity of Governor’s policy, it would take more than a difference in opinion at this stage. The Court has not taken any evidence on these issues.”