Virginia Judge Blocks Gov. Youngkin's Masks-Optional Order Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
By Solange Reyner | Friday, 04 February 2022 07:28 PM
A Virginia judge on Friday blocked Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order making masks optional for children in public schools, ruling in favor of seven school boards that filed a lawsuit challenging his emergency powers, reports Fox News.
Youngkin, who took office in early January, issued the order the same day he was sworn in.
"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," Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo wrote in her ruling.
Seven school districts requested a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit arguing that Youngkin was violating part of the state Constitution that reads, "the supervision of schools in each school division shall be vested in a school board."
She also said there was a benefit to keeping current universal mask polices in place while the case is pending in court.
"Keeping rules in place that have been established over the school year helps children, families and staff understand how they may be impacted during the pandemic. Without a restraining order, children and staff would have to reassess certain health conditions they believe are impacted by a mask policy (any mask policy), having relied upon a universal mask mandate implemented by the School Boards," DiMatteo wrote.
Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said in a statement that the governor vowed to appeal the ruling.
"The governor will never stop fighting for parents' ability to choose what is best for their children," she said.
"More voices, including from the scientific and medical community, call into question the efficacy behind a universal mask mandate for children," Porter added. "This is about what's best for their kid's health and who can best make that decision. We are going to appeal, this is just the first step in the judicial process."
The school boards in a joint statement said the judge's order protects "the health and well-being of all students and staff and reaffirms the constitutional right of Virginia's local school boards to enact policy at the local level."