Over two years into the coronavirus pandemic, reason and sensible policies have re-entered the education space. Several public school systems in northern Virginia have enacted mask-optional policies for their students, which parents and activists cheered for acquiescing to their demands.
The main impetus behind the mask mandate policy changes was the passage and signing of an anti-mask mandate bill into law in the commonwealth of Virginia, which Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law. Youngkin, a Republican, won his election by running on anti-mask mandate and parent empowerment policies.
The new law forced school districts to comply by March 1, though several districts indicated that they would stick by the oft-flawed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which advocated for masking children who are not vaccinated.
WTOP reported that Loudoun County Public Schools, which are a hotbed of parent activism, became the first public schools to cave into public pressure. It also helped that Circuit Court Judge James Fisher barred the school district from enforcing its mask mandate.
Fisher, in his decision, backed parents who sued Loudoun County because they argued that the mask mandate caused irreparable harm to their children. Fisher agreed that the school board does not have the constitutional authority to implement a mandate unilaterally.
Embattled school superintendent Scott Ziegler said of the decision in a letter, “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.” Ironically, Ziegler’s decision to stand by a mask mandate did cause many students and parents discomfort.
The school district also admitted that students who were disciplined for not wearing masks while the mask mandate was enforced will have the disciplinary actions removed from their records. At the time, some parents claimed that the school district unfairly punished their children for not wearing masks, such as separating them from their classmates, isolating them, and escorting them to and from restrooms. The reason behind the enforcement was that Youngkin signed an executive order that allowed students to go to school without masks, although it was up to school districts to maintain or get rid of their mask mandates. The resulting confusion led to many arguments between parents, students, and school districts which stuck to their mask mandates.
Parents spoke up and forced school districts such as Loudoun County to back down, which is an encouraging trend for concerned parents seeking to retake control of their children’s education that has long been infiltrated by leftist ideologues.