Is Gov. Youngkin’s executive order to get rid of mask mandates in schools legal?

The answer is unclear, according to a local legal expert

LYNCHBURG, Va. – There is a lot of confusion for parents and school leaders in the area. It comes as Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order allowing parents to choose if their kid wears a mask.

“This spirit of Virginia is not a spirit that is rested in government telling us what is best for us, but rather reflecting the will of the people,” Youngkin says.

However, debate grows over state law and what the governor can or can’t do.

[Here are the 11 executive actions Gov. Youngkin signed on day one]

“I suggest the governor read the entire state constitution that he swore to support, and understand that the General Assembly is going to remind him when he oversteps the authority,” Democratic Senator Jennifer McClellan says.

Youngkin’s order doesn’t take effect until Jan. 24. Already, a growing list of schools say they won’t drop the mask requirement.

“I think right now the only known is the unknown,” Patrick Bolling says.

Bolling has worked as an attorney in Lynchburg at Woods Rogers for seven years. He says it’s the question of legislative versus executive power driving confusion.

“Is that more valid than the act of assembly that was passed under Governor Northam’s Administration, which says, school districts are required to follow CDC guidance to the maximum extent practical,” he said.

Legal experts say Senate Bill 1303 would give schools a strong case. However, Youngkin referenced a separate code saying, a parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning upbringing, education and care.

“There are so many of these COVID-related legal issues going through the court right now,” Bolling says.

He adds it’s highly likely we’ll soon chalk this up to another one.

About the Author

Kortney joined the 10 News team as a Lynchburg Bureau Reporter in May 2021.

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