Richmond School Board votes to take legal action to halt Youngkin mask order

RPS School Board
RPS School Board(NBC12)
Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 5:47 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:56 AM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - A source told NBC12 the Richmond School Board met in a closed session Sunday and voted to take legal action to block Governor Glenn Youngkin’s executive order on optional masking in schools.

In a meeting that was moved urgently from Monday to Sunday afternoon, not many things we’re on the agenda besides the board going into a closed session.

Some people who sat in on the meeting thought the actions taken were in response to a rumored ‘Sick Out’ said to happen on Monday.

“It’s been a lot of secrecy, there hasn’t been a lot of transparency,” Henri’ Thompson, an RPS teacher said. “I know about the movement that there is to be out of school tomorrow because of raging concerns.”

Instead, the board came out of the closed session and voted 5-3 to take legal action and maintain its COVID-19 protocols.

At the meeting superintendent, Jason Kamras and board members were asked not to speak to the media or public about the legal matter.

A Facebook post by vice-chair Kenya Gibson confirmed the board’s plan to take legal action against Youngkin’s executive order.

The Governor’s executive order goes into effect Monday. It states: parents of children in elementary, secondary school or a “school-based early childcare and educational program” can elect for their child not to wear a mask and they do not have to provide a reason why.

Many school systems and state lawmakers have debated the legality of the order. The governor is relying on a state law from 2013 that says a parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the child’s upbringing, education, and care.

Thirteen parents in Chesapeake are suing Governor Glenn Youngkin over this executive order. The lawsuit can be read here.

The parents argue that a 2021 state law that requires schools to offer in-person learning also requires schools to follow CDC guidance, which currently recommends that students mask up. The suit argues the governor does not have the power to suspend that law, and they want the state supreme court to declare the executive order void.

It is unclear if the Richmond School Board is filing a separate lawsuit or joining the one drawn up by the Chesapeake parents.

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