A Virginia Judge Just Stymied Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Anti-Mask Efforts

On the issue of Covid mandates, the score stands at School Boards 1, Youngkin 0.

Gov. Glenn YoungkinSteven Helber/AP

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The score stands at Virginia Schools 1, Gov. Glenn Youngkin 0, after a judge ruled on Friday that school boards may disregard—for now—Youngkin’s attempt to ban student mask mandates. 

Virginia Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo granted seven school boards temporary restraining orders against Youngkin’s directive. On his first day in office, the governor had signed an executive order stating that, as of January 24, schools were no longer allowed to make students wear masks on campus. 

On the day the order was to take effect, school boards in Alexandria, Falls Church, Hampton, and Richmond teamed up with their counterparts in Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William counties to challenge it. Together, the seven boards represent more than 350,000 students from across the state. 

The school authorities argued that Youngkin overstepped his legal authority, and questioned whether an executive order can trump the decision of local school officials. DiMatteo agreed that the question merits further consideration. “I’m not here to decide who is right and wrong on masking. This case is a question of who has authority,” she said.  

“The order allows schools to continue to protect the health and well-being of all students and staff. While the legal process on this matter continues, today’s ruling preserves the existing policies and practices in Virginia school divisions, which includes masking requirements,” the school boards announced in a joint statement

Both sides believe an appeal is likely, according to reports from NBC 4. But, the legal fun doesn’t stop there. Youngkin still has at least three other legal battles in play, all of which pertain to the very same order.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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