RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin said Friday he’s confident his administration will win a court battle over his executive order allowing parents to opt out of school mask mandates for their children, but he advised parents to “listen to their principal” until the Supreme Court of Virginia issues its ruling.
With Youngkin’s order slated to go into effect Monday and no action yet from the court following a lawsuit filed earlier in the week, confusion continued to swirl Friday.
School districts across the state have offered a range of responses to Youngkin’s order, with some planning to comply but many others in some of the state’s most populous areas saying their mandates would remain in place next week. One district said it would have extra security Monday after a mother speaking against mask mandates made a perceived threat during a school board meeting.
n a statement, Youngkin said he was confident the Virginia Supreme Court would rule “in the favor of parents.” “In the meantime, I urge all parents to listen to their principal, and trust the legal process,” he said. Tuesday’s legal challenge to the order — which Youngkin issued on his first day in office — was filed by a group of parents with children in Chesapeake Public Schools.
Youngkin has asked the court to dismiss the petition. A filing late Thursday from the office of Attorney General Jason Miyares cited a state law that says parents have a “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care” of their children. Miyares also argued that Youngkin’s order falls well within the broad authority given to the governor to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
School districts in Virginia have required masks in part under a state law passed in 2021 that requires in-person instruction during the pandemic and for schools to adhere “to the maximum extent practicable” to mitigation guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC currently recommends masking by anyone 2 or older, regardless of their vaccination status.