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Judge sides with 7 Va. school districts in suit against Youngkin's executive order

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Posted at 4:36 PM, Feb 04, 2022

ARLINGTON, Va. -- An Arlington County Circuit Court Judge has ruled in favor of seven school boards who sued Governor Glenn Youngkin over his executive order.

Youngkin's executive order aims to allow parents to choose whether their child wears a mask to school.

Seven school boards, including Richmond, joined the lawsuit which was filed on January 24, the same day that Youngkin's executive order took effect.

This ruling comes only two days after the sides made their arguments in an Arlington County Court.

University of Richmond Law professor Jack Preis said that the judge's decision boiled down to an issue of precedence.

Both local school boards and the governor have been granted powers by the General Assembly that allow governors to issue orders in a time of emergency.

The school board's complaint says that the executive order violates the Constitution of Virginia and Senate Bill 1303 which requires all school districts in Virginia to implement COVID-19 mitigation strategies as provided by the CDC.

The school districts argued that their power was undermined by Youngkin's executive order.

Preis said it was up to the judge to resolve the conflicting powers.

"And so in this case, the more specific statute seems to be the one in the court's view that the legislature cared about with regard to the specific issue of masks in schools, or at least with a specific issue of CDC guidelines in schools.

Preis said this ruling doesn't have any impact on schools that were not involved in the lawsuit and it won't require those that have gotten rid of mask mandates to reinstate them.

A spokesperson for Governor Youngkin shared the following statement with CBS6:

The governor will never stop fighting for parents’ ability to choose what is best for their children. The governor often said that this is not a pro-mask or anti-mask debate. It’s about parents knowing what’s best for their child’s health, and opting-out should there be a mask mandate. More voices, including from the scientific and medical community, call into question the efficacy behind a universal mask mandate for children. This is about what’s best for their kid’s health and who can best make that decision. We are going to appeal, this is just the first step in the judicial process.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.

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