Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Attorney General Jason Miyares, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow filed a motion to join a Circuit Court lawsuit filed by a group of parents against the Loudoun County School Board’s mask mandate.
The state officials are seeking a temporary injunction and temporary restraining order against the mandate, which Miyares said in a statement is in violation of Youngkin’s executive order to make masking in schools optional.
The plaintiffs, all parent of students in the division, are Kristen Barnett, Heather Yescavage, and former candidate for appointment to the Leesburg District School Board seat, Colin Doniger.
“The School Board’s actions have directly interfered with the right of each parent here … to make educational decisions for their children, all of whom have been directly and irreparably harmed by the unlawful Universal Mask Mandate and would attend their respective Loudoun County Public Schools mask-free if it were not for the Mandate,” the filing reads.
“After nearly two years in this pandemic, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day,” Miyares said in a statement Wednesday evening. “Parents know what is best for their children and should be able to decide if their children wear a mask for eight hours a day.”
Youngkin’s executive order also is the subject of a lawsuit from other school boards, who argue that the order is illegal because it conflicts with state law. Senate Bill 1303, signed into law last year, requires that school divisions provide full-time in-person instruction, and to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance to the greatest extent practicable. The CDC still recommends masking in schools.
The Loudoun parents’ lawsuit, however, claims that the School Board is in violation of Senate Bill 1303 because their children are not permitted in school without wearing masks.
The plaintiffs claim that the school division has caused irreparable harm to their children with the mask mandate, which they claim the board does not have authority to impose.
“Interpreting the School Board’s powers broadly enough to authorize the Universal Mask Mandate would put those powers in conflict with parents’ ‘fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education and care’ of their children,” the filing says.
The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against the division’s masking policy. They are represented by the D.C. law firm Jones Day.
Some students have been disciplined for not wearing masks. One Stone Bridge High School family this week shared a letter notifying them that their student was suspended for 10 days for flouting the school mask requirement.
A hearing has not yet been scheduled for the case.