Loudoun County school board hit with lawsuit from angry parents for defying Youngkin mask order

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The circus goes on forever in Loudoun County, Virginia, as the latest chapter in the never-ending drama opens with a lawsuit by angry parents against the increasingly unpopular school board.

The lawsuit was filed in the Loudoun County circuit court this Tuesday, and names three plaintiffs from the Loudoun County School Board (LCSB): Kristen Barnett, Heather Yescavage, and Colin Doniger. The lawsuit alleges that all three board members are in violation of the newly minted Governor Youngkin’s mask order. The executive order permits parents to op-out of masking their children at school, regardless of any school policy, which the order supersedes.

The LCSB, however, has announced that it has voted to continue the mask mandate in a statement, as per the recommendation of Superintendent Scott Ziegler:

“The Loudoun County School Board voted Tuesday night to support the superintendent’s recommendation to continue the current mitigation efforts, including the mask mandate within LCPS.

LCPS students and staff wear masks as part of a layered strategy to help prevent COVID-19 transmission. The General Assembly adopted Chapter 456 (often referred to as SB1303) on March 30, 2021, directing school boards to offer and prioritize in-person instruction. It also requires school boards to adhere to mitigation procedures, like mask-wearing, to the extent practicable as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). In order to comply with this legislation, masks must be worn by students, staff and visitors in LCPS facilities. Federal law requires the use of masks while on school buses.”

The parents, however, weren’t having it, and according to court documents associated with the complaint and reported by Fox 5, allege that the school board is essentially violating the well-being of students and is not in compliance with Youngkin’s executive order:

“Despite belatedly allowing students to return to Loudoun County Public Schools, the Board continues to demand that they wear restrictive facemasks for up to seven or eight hours a day — imposing physical, psychological, and developmental consequences that could be severe.

Virginians are currently free to eat at restaurants, stroll shopping malls, go bowling, watch the NFL playoffs at a local tavern, and engage in innumerable other outdoor activities – all without wearing masks. Yet children in Loudoun County’s public schools remain trapped in 2020-era pandemic policies that are increasingly difficult to justify as we approach the two-year anniversary of COVID-19’s arrival in the United States.”
The LCSB spokesman Wayde Byard stated that so far no students have actually been sent home for not wearing masks. However, he did say that some students may soon be facing suspensions. Currently, students without masks were sent to the school auditorium to do online learning. According to Byard, fewer than 200 out of the district’s 80,000 students returned from winter break without masks.
Given that Youngkin’s order is itself the subject of lawsuits, including from such organizations as the American Civil Liberties Union, it remains to be seen how this war of conflicting federal and state mandates and executive orders will play out in this lawsuit.
The LCSB has been the subject of intense controversy over its handling of Critical Race Theory, mask mandates, transgender ideology, and covering up of sexual assaults by a student.

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