Judge halts Loudoun County’s school mask mandate as state mask-optional law takes effect

Judge halts Loudoun County’s school mask mandate as state mask-optional law takes effect

A Loudoun County judge issued a temporary injunction Wednesday immediately barring the county’s public school system from enforcing its mask mandate the same day the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation requiring all districts to go mask-optional by March 1.

Responding to the Loudoun County ruling, Youngkin called Wednesday a “great day for Virginia’s parents and kids.”

“Not only did we pass a bipartisan bill empowering parents to opt-out of school mask mandates, but also the Loudoun Circuit Court reaffirmed parents’ rights to have a say in their child’s health, education, care, and wellbeing,” he wrote.

The measure, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), will probably bring to an end legal wrangling over two lawsuits brought by parents in Fairfax and Loudoun counties. Loudoun County Public Schools initially announced Wednesday that it would make masks optional starting next week, but with the judge’s ruling, the option begins Thursday.

Superintendent Scott Ziegler referenced the ruling in a Wednesday night message to families announcing his district’s change in masking policies.

“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,” Ziegler wrote.

Students who have been previously punished for not complying with coronavirus mitigation measures would have their records cleared of that infraction, according to the judge’s order, Ziegler said.

University of Virginia law professor Margaret Foster Riley, however, told CNN that the new law could be “fatal for much of the litigation currently pending.”

“But the new law is quite vague in some areas and possibly overbroad, and that might provide some potential opportunities,” she told CNN in an email.

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