Executive order set to go into effect, as Supreme Court assesses mask mandate

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RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ) — An executive order allowing parents to opt out of mask mandates in Virginia schools is set to go into effect Monday. But it looks like the Virginia Supreme Court will ultimately decide whether the mask requirements stay in place or not.

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

“I think it’s about defending the right of parents to make decisions about their children,” Youngkin told reporters.

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

“It doesn’t take away anyone’s right to wear a mask at school,” Miyares said. “You want your child to wear a mask at school, that’s great. But respect the fact that there may be people who think differently from you.

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

“He would 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, chairwoman of the Virginia Democratic Party.

“In the midst of a pandemic, it’s caused more chaos, more friction, more arguments that divide school boards,” Del said. Lamont Bagby, chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus.

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

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

Late Friday afternoon, Youngkin released parental opt-out guidelines.

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

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