Jan 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Virginia school boards sue Gov. Youngkin for lifting mask mandate

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin delivers his State of the Commonwealth address before a joint session of the Virginia General Assembly.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin. Photo: Steve Helber/Associated Press

At least seven school boards have sued Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin over his decision to end the commonwealth’s mask mandate in public schools.

Why it matters: The school boards — including Fairfax County Public Schools, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. with more than 178,000 students — asked for an injunction to prevent the Republican governor from enforcing the order, which leaves masking decisions up to parents and went into effect on Monday.

  • The boards said the order violated an article of Virginia’s constitution that leaves supervision of schools up to the boards and a state law that requires school districts to follow federal health guidelines.

What they're saying: "The Governor’s Executive Order to the contrary is a clear violation of the School Boards’ constitutional rights and responsibilities, as well as to the entire structure for the supervision of public education in Virginia, prescribed by the Constitution of Virginia," the lawsuit reads.

The other side: Youngkin defended the order in a statement over the weekend, saying it "is not about pro-masks versus anti-mask, it’s about empowering parents."

  • "I am confident that the Virginia Supreme Court will rule in the favor of parents, reaffirming the parental rights clearly laid out in the Virginia code § 1-240.1," he added.

The big picture: Youngkin also faces a lawsuit from 13 parents over the masking order.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details from the lawsuit.

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