CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A federal judge has now ruled that some Virginia schools can in fact mandate mask-wearing if it is being done for the protection of a dozen immunocompromised children.
The decision made late Wednesday night is being hailed as a victory for those in support of wearing masks, while state lawmakers against mask mandates are saying it reaffirms orders by the governor.
The ruling only impacts the schools where the 12 students named in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU) attend. Those school districts include Albemarle, Chesterfield, Loudoun, Henrico, Bedford, Chesapeake, Cumberland, Fairfax, Manasses and York counties.
The schools this ruling applies to in Central Virginia are Enon Elementary School, Cumberland Elementary School and Quioccasin Middle School.
The ruling from Federal Judge Norman Moon in Charlottesville states Senate Bill 739, the law that makes masking optional for schools in Virginia, is still the law — but he believes that the law is preventing those 12 students’ rights to wear masks as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
That means if a student is immunocompromised, they would have the right under the ADA to ask for masking policies in their classes. But right now, the ruling only applies to the 12 schools each student listed in the lawsuit is in.
Those 12 students range in age from Pre-K through 11th grade, according to court documents. The opinion also noted those students they have conditions ranging from cancer to cystic fibrosis, and they are fully vaccinated.
However, Attorney General Jason Miyares said last night he believes the judge’s ruling affirms that Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order Two and Senate Bill 739 are law and parents have the right to make choices for their children.
The ACLU wrote in a tweet, “The court BLOCKED Gov. Youngkin's EO 2 & the new state law lifting the mask mandates from being enforced against our 12 plaintiffs."
BREAKING: The court BLOCKED Gov. Youngkin's EO 2 & the new state law lifting the mask mandates from being enforced against our 12 plaintiffs.— ACLU of Virginia (@ACLUVA) March 24, 2022
We will have more to say tomorrow. For now, we are glad the court agreed: No student should have to risk their lives to go to school.
Miyares also took to Twitter to comment on the ruling.
Tonight, a Federal Court ruled that— Jason Miyares (@JasonMiyaresVA) March 24, 2022
“EO2 and SB739 are the law in Virginia and they remain in force, affording parents the choice whether their children should wear masks to school, notwithstanding any school rule that would require students to wear masks.”
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