OPINION: This article contains commentary which may reflect the author's opinion
The State Supreme Court in Virginia overturned a challenge from Chesapeake parents seeking to have their children opt out of wearing masks in school. Attorney General Jason Miyares called the decision “a win for Virginia families.”
The ruling was followed by a written statement from Miyares.
“Today, the Supreme Court of Virginia rejected a challenge out of the City of Chesapeake to Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order Number 2. The Governor and I are pleased with today’s ruling. At the beginning of this pandemic, Governor Northam used his broad emergency powers to close places of worship, private businesses, and schools and impose a statewide mask mandate,” Miyares explained.
“Nearly two years later, we have better risk mitigation strategies and vaccines, and we know much more about the efficacy of requiring children to wear masks all day. We agree with the Court’s decision and will continue to defend the Executive Order. This is a victory for Virginia families,” he continued.
As noted in the dismissal, parents had challenged “the provisions of Governor Glenn A. Youngkin’s Executive Order Two and Order of Public Health Emergency One (collectively, ‘EO 2’) that permit parents to exempt their children from school masking requirements,” read the order.
In a statement, the judges of the state’s highest court wrote: “we deny petitioners’ motion to amend, and we dismiss the petition because the relief requested does not lie against any of the respondents.”
Youngkin had last week joined a lawsuit filed by parents against Loudoun County schools over masks. It was reported:
Virginia’s governor, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction have asked a court to let them become plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by parents against the Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS), lending new legal firepower to a group of parents’ quest to unmask their children.
After taking office last month, Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued an executive order saying that parents had the right to choose whether their children must wear masks at school or not. Liberal jurisdictions refused to follow it, claiming they did not have to follow executive orders.
A statement was sent out by Attorney General Jason Miyares regarding the lawsuit:
“When the pandemic started, Governor Northam used his emergency powers to close down places of worship, private businesses, and schools and impose a universal mask mandate. Nearly two years later, Governor Youngkin is using those same emergency powers to adapt to our current phase in the same pandemic, by giving parents the ability to opt out of a school mask mandate,” he stated.
In addition to Virginia’s K-12th grade schools, three large universities have also recently ended their commitment to COVID-19 vaccinations after a new legal opinion by Miyares.
In a January 26 opinion, Miyares stated university campuses in Virginia could not impose the mandate unless it was listed among immunization requirements for higher education institutions.
In his opinion, the attorney general wrote that “as recognized in the prior opinion, ‘[t]here is no question that the General Assembly could enact a statute requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance,’” a statement released by Miyares’ office read.
“As of this writing, it has not done so. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has amended other statutes to address pandemic-related issues.”
As recognized in the prior Opinion, “[tjhere is no question that the General Assembly could enact a statute requiring the COVID-19 vaccine for in-person school attendance.”10 As of this writing, it has not done so. Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, the General Assembly has amended other statutes to address pandemic-related issues. For example, it amended the Virginia Freedom of Information Act to broaden the purposes for which public bodies may hold electronic meetings without a quorum physically assembled at one location.” Although the General Assembly specifically authorized public institutions of higher education to assist the Department of Health and local health departments in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, the legislation did not grant such institutions power to impose vaccine requirements. To date, the General Assembly has not amended the specific immunizations enumerated in § 23.1-800 to include immunization for COVID-19, and boards of visitors may not exercise an implied power to require a certain vaccine when a specific statute governing vaccination excludes it.
There has been a significant decline in Covid-19 cases in the US over the past few weeks due to the Omicron wave.
According to Johns Hopkins University, there are now over 290,000 new cases of Covid-19 every day in the US. Those daily totals are higher than in any previous wave of Covid-19, but they are down sharply from just a few weeks ago.
As of now, there are about one-third of the new cases were reported three weeks ago when the number peaked at 800,000 new cases per day.
While the Omicron variant has been found to cause milder illness than earlier versions, the CDC reports so many people have been infected that people were hospitalized with Covid-19 three weeks ago more than at any other stage during the pandemic.