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Tipsheet

Judge Temporarily Blocks Order on Optional Masking in VA Schools, Youngkin and Miyares Vow to Appeal

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Update:

On Sunday, the official Twitter account for the Fairfax County Public Schools system responded in a thread addressing concerns some had about a potential conflict of interest Judge Louise DiMatteo may have had in that her husband is a teach in the Arlington County Public School system, which is one of the school boards involved in suing the governor.

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Fairfax, the largest school district in Virginia and one of the largest in the country, is also part of the lawsuit. 

Original:

On Friday, Arlington Circuit Court Judge Louise DiMatteo issued a temporary restraining order to block Gov. Glenn Youngkin's executive order on masking from going into effect. That executive order, issued hours after Youngkin was inaugurated on January 15, was meant to fulfill a "Day One Promise" to empower parents to decide whether their children would wear masks to school. Seven school boards, five of them which were located in blue Northern Virginia, sued the governor over the mask mandates. 

Those districts include Alexandria, Arlington County, Richmond, Fairfax County, Falls Church, Hampton, and Prince William County school boards. 

Fairfax County is the largest school district in Virginia and one of the largest in the country. As I have covered before, students have been suspended for showing up to school without masks.

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"Having addressed all aspects of whether a temporary restraining order should issue, the Court concludes that the School Boards’ Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order with regard to optional masking of children should be granted," Judge DiMatteo wrote in her ruling. "To the extent that the public would be affected by a change in policy, the Court concludes that consistency, during the pendency of a court case, benefits the public interest."

"I’m not here to decide who is right and wrong on masking. This case is a question of who has authority," NBC Washington quoted Judge DiMatteo as saying. 

As NOVA Campaigns highlighted on Twitter, Judge DiMatteo is married to Dr. Michael Megargee, who teaches physics at Wakefield High School. That school is located in the Arlington County Public School system, which is a party in the lawsuit.

At issue is who is at liberty to make the decisions on masking. Youngkin and Miyare emphasize that the Virginia constitution empowers parents to make that decision, while the school boards say it is with them. 

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Both Gov. Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares are planning to appeal the 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," said Victoria LaCivita, the communications director for Attorney General Jason Miyares in a statement for Townhall. "By empowering parents with an opt-out option for face masks, Governor Youngkin is simply using the same executive powers used by Governor Northam to alter our response to the same pandemic. We are disappointed that the trial court did not fully agree with our interpretation of the law and we are preparing to appeal today's ruling."

In a series of tweets, Macauly Porter, Youngkin's press secretary emphasized the power of parents.

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Loudoun County Public Schools is another district in the news, as children in elementary school are being suspended and threatened with charges of trespassing if they show up to school unmasked. The school board has also come under fire, though, for the decision last year to send a now 15-year old male to another school in the district after he had raped a female classmate, allowing him to offend once more.

There is another lawsuit to do with Loudoun County where parents have sued the school board, which Youngkin and Miyares have signed onto

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