Executive order set to take effect, as Supreme Court weighs mask mandate

Published: Jan. 21, 2022 at 9:35 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) - An executive order allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates in Virginia schools is set to take effect Monday. But it appears the Virginia Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the mask requirements remain in place.

Governor Glenn Youngkin defended the action during his visit to Roanoke Thursday.

“I think this is all about standing up for parents’ rights to make their decisions with regard to their children,” Youngkin told reporters.

And later in the day, Attorney General Jason Miyares announced he was petitioning the Supreme Court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the governor’s order.

“This does not take away anyone’s right to wear a mask to school,” Miyares said. “You want your child to wear a mask in school, that’s great. But respect the fact that there may be people that think differently than you.”

Virginia Democrats see the governor’s executive order in a different light.

“He’d rather play politics with the lives of our children and their families, than keep our schools open and our children healthy and safe,” said Susan Swecker, Chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia.

“In the midst of a pandemic, he’s caused more chaos, more friction, more divisive arguments among school boards,” said Del. Lamont Bagby, Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

But Youngkin said he believes state law is on his side, and said he is confident the court will rule in his favor.

“And so I think this is going to become very clear,” Youngkin said Thursday. “And then people will comply, because they have to comply with the law. And I think this is what we’re going to see determined very, very quickly in our court system.”

Late Friday afternoon Youngkin released guidelines on the parental opt-out provision.

Youngkin said he urges all parents “to listen to their principal, and trust the legal process.”

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