VIRGINIA (FOX 5 DC) - The Virginia Supreme Court has dismissed a parental challenge of Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order that aims to prevent public schools from implementing a mask mandate for students, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Last week, an Arlington judge granted seven school districts in Virginia a temporary restraining order to keep their masking guidelines in place – despite Gov. Youngkin's executive order.
The Supreme Court ruled on the legal method that a group of parents challenged the order, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.
Attorney General Miyares issued this statement following the dismissal:
"Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected a challenge out of the City of Chesapeake to Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order Number 2. The Governor and I are pleased with today’s ruling. At the beginning of this pandemic, Governor Northam used his broad emergency powers to close places of worship, private businesses, and schools and impose a statewide mask mandate. Nearly two years later, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day. We agree with the Court's decision and will continue to defend the Executive Order. This is a victory for Virginia families."
Kevin Martingayle, a lawyer who filed the petition on behalf of the Chesapeake parents, said the ruling is only a procedural defeat, and noted language in the court’s opinion suggesting that local school boards have "a degree of discretion" under state law on whether to impose mandates.
"This is far from over," Martingayle said in a statement.
A third lawsuit is scheduled for a pretrial hearing in Loudoun County, where parents opposed to the mask mandate are suing the local school board for refusing to enact Youngkin’s executive order.
Youngkin issued the order on his first day in office last month. Since then, some school boards have eliminated mask mandates that were required under the previous administration, while others have defied his order, arguing it usurps local authority and dismantles a policy that has worked well in reducing transmission of the coronavirus.
This article contains information obtained from the Associated Press.