LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - The mask controversy continues in Northern Virginia.
Several school districts, including Loudoun County, are going against Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order allowing parents to decide if their child should wear a mask.
This has led to unmasked students being suspended and teachers being pushed out the door.
For example, special education teacher assistant, John Ray, says the school district is trying to fire him for not wearing a mask. He only wanted to speak on camera with FOX 5’s Sierra Fox.
"It makes me feel betrayed and that they don’t care," Ray said. "Basically what I think they’re doing is illegal. I’m following the law and they’re not. I think that’s the crux of the matter because they feel like they’re following the law, and they’re not, and I feel like I am."
The Belmont Ridge Middle School Principal Katie Johnson sent a letter to Mr. Ray recommending that he be dismissed from employment with Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS). He has a right to appeal it and a hearing with Superintendent Dr. Scott Ziegler, but Mr. Ray says he is not going to that.
What are his next steps? Well, if he’s officially fired – he plans to take legal action.
More than 100 people plan to speak at the LCPS school board meeting Tuesday night. Mask wearing is not on the agenda, but parents plan to bring it up because many are fed up, upset with how the school district is handling COVID-19 policies.
For example, parents are concerned about an e-mail sent to principals from the LCPS Director of Safety and Security John Clark that is now circling around on social media about how they can apply for a warrant or trespass notices for students trying to enter school without a mask.
At this time, LCPS says they have not issued any warrants or trespass notices and addressed this matter in this statement.
Another concern expected to come up at tonight’s meeting is how the school district isolated unmasked students in gyms and auditoriums last week and has started to suspend them. This includes Woodgrove High School Senior Jared Missler who wants to be at school maskless.
He is an eagle scout and does well in the classroom. His father, Andrew Missler, recorded a meeting with the principal expressing his frustration and anger that his son can’t be in a classroom learning.
"I’m honestly kind of worried that the suspensions are going to mess with my ability to get into [those] colleges," said Jared Missler. "I don’t think we deserve the punishment for this."
"Right now, our other son is going to school with a mask on, so this is not a political thing for us. He chose to go there without a mask because he gets anxiety wearing the mask. If you think about it – you wear it eight hours a day or ten hours a day riding a bus or wherever you’re doing – that kind of messes with a kid’s psyche," said Andrew Missler.
At this time, LCPS says 21 students have been suspended for not wearing a mask. The suspension lasts for 10 days. However, the kids and teens are only allowed back if they put on a mask, so many say they will be out of school for a while.