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Tipsheet

Thanks to Court Decision, Loudoun County Students Were Allowed to Show Up to School Mask Free

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

Wednesday was a good day for parents' rights in Virginia. In addition to Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) signing SB 739 into law, which empowers parents to decide whether their children will wear masks and guarantees in-person instruction, students in the Loudoun County Public School (LCPS) system found relief through a court decision later that evening.

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As Youngkin and Attorney General Jason Miyares (R) rejoiced about over Twitter,  Loudoun County Circuit Court Judge James Fisher had ruled in favor of parents who sued the district for not complying with one of Youngkin's executive orders issued last month, hours after he took office on January 15.  The attorney general had also joined in on the lawsuit. 

The order, which an Arlington judge had issued a temporary restraining order against, had empowered parents to make decisions on masking, but it had been tied up in the courts.

Initially, LCPS had planned to make masks optional starting next Tuesday, on February 22, but the temporary injunction from Judge Fisher ordered it to take effect immediately.

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A report from Scott Gelman with WTOP News mentions a letter from Loudoun Superintendent Scott Ziegler, which the LCPS Official Twitter account shared on Wednesday night.

"Starting tomorrow, Thursday, February 17, students may continue to wear masks if they choose to, but masks will not be required. The decision of whether to wear a mask or not is deeply personal for many families, we ask that you respect the decision of others. No one should be made to feel uncomfortable about their choice," the letter began in part.

Ziegler also closed on "a personal note" to thank parents:

On a personal note, I want to thank our students, families, and employees for their patience during this time. The safety of our students and staff has always been our top priority. I completely understand the frustration many of you have felt over the past few weeks and months related to school COVID-19 mitigation strategies, particularly masking. I also understand that this is a rapid change. If you have any specific questions or concerns, I ask that you reach out to your child’s principal for more specific guidance.

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While Ziegler's letter claims that the "safety of our students and staff has always been our top priority," it is worth repeating that the school district allowed a now 15-year old male student to rape a classmate in the women's bathroom, and then transferred that student to another school in the district, allowing him to offend several more times. The school board then lied about it and is resisting calls, including from the attorney general's office, to make public the results of what they are calling an "independent" investigation.

And, when it comes to claims from Ziegler that "I completely understand the frustration many of you have felt over the past few weeks and months related to school COVID-19 mitigation strategies, particularly masking," there is also no mention of how students in the district were suspended for failing to mask. They could even be charged with trespassing, with staff being trained on how to obtain a warrant.

Even if there's hope for students in Loudoun to have a sense of normalcy, shenanigans continue in other districts. 

As Rachel Schneider reported for WDBJ 7, Board Chairwoman Susan Kass abruptly left a school board meeting on Tuesday night in Montgomery County after a parent showed footage of her without a mask. The photo, taken from Kass' own Facebook, was to showcase her mask hypocrisy. 

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A mother at the Prince William County school board meeting on Wednesday night was also roughly and forcibly removed.

Under SB 739, school districts have until March 1 to comply. 

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