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RICHMOND, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) — Virginia’s new Republican governor and attorney general are putting their weight behind parents who are challenging their schools’ efforts to keep forced masking of children alive, despite legislation and executive orders to end the practice.

Among the executive actions Gov. Glenn Youngkin took on the day of his inauguration was one clarifying that parents have the sole right to decide whether their children wear masks in public schools. 

Several school districts, including Alexandria and Arlington, announced in response that they would disregard the order and continue to mandate masks; Youngkin responded by promising to “use every resource in the governor’s authority to explore what we can do and will do in order to make sure that parents’ rights are protected.” Falls Church was the first district to comply.

Others have remained obstinate, however, such as Fairfax County Public Schools ordering the suspension of unmasked students and joining a seven-district lawsuit against the governor’s order.

Following the release of audio of a Loudoun County elementary school principal warning parents that students who come to school maskless would be charged with trespassing, state Attorney General Jason Miyares told WMAL-DC that “you’ll be seeing some moves from our office in the next 24 hours on behalf of those parents in Loudoun.”

Soon after, Miyares’ office announced that it, the governor’s office, and the state school superintendent’s office had filed a joint motion to join Loudoun County parents’ lawsuit against the board, declaring: “Parents know what is best for their children and should be able to decide if their children wear a mask for eight hours a day.” The suit is seeking for the district to be ordered to comply with Youngkin’s order and end enforcement of the mask mandate.

In the meantime, Youngkin is preparing to sign a new law that would formally codify parents’ right to decide whether their children wear masks in public schools. It remains to be seen how the defiant school districts will react.

Available evidence suggests that masks have played little, if any, role in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”

Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits: “mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.

“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist Professor Vinay Prasad wrote in September. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”