OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Parental choice got a win in Virginia on Monday after the state Supreme Court upheld an executive order from GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin banning public school districts from imposing mask mandates on students.
Following the ruling, Republican Attorney General Jason Miyares called “a win for Virginia families” in allowing parents to have their children opt-out of wearing a mask if they so desired.
“Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected a challenge out of the City of Chesapeake to Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order Number 2. The Governor and I are pleased with today’s ruling,” Miyares noted in a statement following the decision.
“At the beginning of this pandemic, Governor Northam used his broad emergency powers to close places of worship, private businesses, and schools and impose a statewide mask mandate,” he continued.
“Nearly two years later, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day,” he said.
“We agree with the Court’s decision and will continue to defend the Executive Order. This is a victory for Virginia families,” Miyares added.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has rejected a challenge out of Chesapeake to @GovernorVA‘s EO2.
This is a win for Virginia families. https://t.co/OtEFdqkudJ
— Jason Miyares (@JasonMiyaresVA) February 7, 2022
In the high court’s dismissal, justices noted that parents challenged “the provisions of Governor Glenn A. Youngkin’s Executive Order Two and Order of Public Health Emergency One (collectively, ‘EO 2′) that permits parents to exempt their children from school masking requirements.”
The justices also wrote, “we deny petitioners’ motion to amend, and we dismiss the petition because the relief requested does not lie against any of the respondents.”
The ruling follows Youngkin’s decision last week to join a parental lawsuit against the Loudoun County Public Schools which had issued a mask mandate for students in defiance of Youngkin’s order.
The Daily Wire reported at the time:
Virginia’s governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction have asked a court to let them become plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by parents against the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), lending new legal firepower to a group of parents’ quest to unmask their children.
After taking office last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order saying that parents had the right to choose whether their children must wear masks at school or not. Liberal jurisdictions refused to follow it, claiming they did not have to follow executive orders.
Miyares issued a statement then, as well.
“When the pandemic started, Governor Northam used his emergency powers to close down places of worship, private businesses, and schools and impose a universal mask mandate. Nearly two years later, Governor Youngkin is using those same emergency powers to adapt to our current phase in the same pandemic, by giving parents the ability to opt out of a school mask mandate,” he wrote.
In addition to K-12 public schools in Virginia, three large universities in the state have also recently ended mandatory masking after a newly issued legal opinion from Miyares:
As recognized in the prior Opinion, “[tjhere is no question that the General Assembly could enact
a statute requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance.”10 As of this writing, it has not
done so. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has amended other statutes to
address pandemic-related issues. For example, it amended the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to
broaden the purposes for which public bodies may hold electronic meetings without a quorum physically
assembled at one location.” Although the General Assembly specifically authorized public institutions of
higher education to assist the Department of Health and local health departments in the administration of
the COVID-19 vaccine, the legislation did not grant such institutions power to impose vaccine
requirements. To date, the General Assembly has not amended the specific immunizations enumerated
in § 23.1-800 to include immunization for COVID-19, and boards of visitors may not exercise an implied
power to require a certain vaccine when a specific statute governing vaccination excludes it.