Shortly after publishing our VA Updates newsletter on Instagram yesterday, we were notified about an update … to our update on the school mask decision 😅 So we’re back to share the latest on the story.
The Supreme Court of Virginia has dismissed a lawsuit from a group of parents in Chesapeake who sued over Governor Glenn Youngkin’s mask-optional executive order in schools.
The justices wrote that their decision came down to the legal relief the group of parents sought, which is called a writ of mandamus — a mechanism in which a court directs a lower court or public official to perform a statutory duty.
They also wrote that they could only issue such a writ in situations where a public official’s role is purely ministerial. And in the case of mask mandates in school, they wrote that a state law passed last year requiring school districts to adhere to CDC guidelines “to the maximum extent practicable” leaves school leaders with at least some discretion regarding how to act.
The justices also wrote in the footnote that “by this dismissal, we offer no opinion on the legality of EO 2 or any other issue pertaining to petitioners’ claims.”
Just a few days prior, Arlington Circuit Court judge Judge Louise DiMatteo temporarily blocked the executive order on Friday after ruling in favor of seven school boards that made a similar legal argument in another lawsuit. The decision from the state’s Supreme Court does not impact the temporary injunction.
Kevin Martingayle, the attorney representing the parents, wrote in an email to 8News that the petition was rejected on procedural issues, and “this is far from over,” pointing to a footnote at the end of the court’s ruling.
The Youngkin administration said the state would appeal the decision in Arlington Circuit Court that temporarily halted the executive order.
This story is developing. Check back for updates.
— Maria, Editor in Chief