RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A number of school districts in Virginia have started to challenge Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order scrapping all school mask mandates. WFXR’s sister station, WRIC, sat down with Attorney General Jason Miyares, who said he is going to trust the legal process as these disputes progress.
Miyares explained that he plans to defend Youngkin’s order in court but he is not making moves to enforce school districts who have decided to keep their mandates. Instead, he said the Commonwealth is waiting for courts to determine the legality of the executive order.
“The courts are going to make a determination,” Miyares said in regard to the governor’s executive order and the legal challenges. “Ultimately, this is going to be decided by the Virginia Supreme Court.”
The attorney general said the order is legal based on a Virginia law that establishes a parent’s ability to make decisions for their own children in school.
However, he did not comment on the more recent Virginia law — Senate Bill 1303 — that requires schools to follow COVID-19 guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which state that masks should be used in school buildings.
Eventually, Miyares said there will be legislative action attempting to solidify the governor’s executive order in Virginia law.
“A Virginia school board can’t simply ignore the code,” he said.
During the interview, Miyares spoke further on what GOP leaders are calling parental empowerment.
He said the move to ban mask mandates is about giving parents the choice to decide whether or not their child has to wear a mask throughout the school day.
“If you come to the conclusion that the very best way to keep my child safe is for them to wear a mask between seven to eight hours a day in school,” Miyares said. “That’s fantastic. That is your right. That right has not been taken away.”
When asked about parents who may be concerned about their children being exposed to unmasked classmates, the attorney general said those parents must “recognize we live in a pluralistic society.”