Feb 5, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Virginia judge temporarily blocks Youngkin's mask-optional order for schools

Photo of Glenn Youngkin speaking
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks prior to signing executive actions in the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond, Va., on Jan. 15. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Virginia judge on Friday temporarily barred enforcement of Gov. Glenn Youngkin's (R) executive order making masks optional in schools.

Why it matters: Seven school boards have sued Youngkin over the order, calling it a violation of Virginia’s constitution, which leaves school supervision up to the boards, and a state law that requires school districts to follow federal health guidelines.

  • The ruling means schools can continue mandating masks as the lawsuit moves through the courts.

What they're saying: Virginia Circuit Judge Louise M. DiMatteo sided with the school boards in the ruling, pointing to the state law mandating adherence to COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • "While the General Assembly has granted the Governor significant and sweeping general powers to address an emergency, when confronted with a specific statute addressing the manner in which in-person learning can resume and directs local school boards to follow the guidance of the CDC, 'the maximum extent practicable,' it does not follow that the Governor, even in an emergency, can direct School Boards to ignore the General Assembly’s deference to CDC guidance and to abandon their considered determination about what is practicable," DiMatteo wrote. 

What to watch: A spokesperson for Youngkin reiterated his belief in parents knowing best for their children, and said they will appeal.

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