• April 14, 2024

School mask wars reach boiling point as districts threaten suspensions

 School mask wars reach boiling point as districts threaten suspensions


January 27, 2022

The fight over school mask mandates greatly escalated in several localities this week, most notably in Virginia and New York, where an executive order in the former made masks optional and a judge’s decision in the latter made them at least temporarily mandatory for students.

A New York state appellate judge stayed a lower court ruling Tuesday that had made masks optional for students in public schools. The original ruling had made the Empire State the latest to become a hot spot of controversy over school mask mandates.

In Virginia, school officials in several districts defied an executive order issued by newly sworn-in Gov. Glenn Youngkin and prohibited parents from opting their children out of mask mandates.


As parents in both states sought to send their children to school without their masks on, school districts in both states turned to draconian measures to ensure compliance, including threatening suspensions.

In New York, Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik tweeted that her office had been answering calls from parent constituents who were “informing us that their kids are being kept from entering schools unless they are wearing masks” prior to the stay on the court ruling.

A spokesperson for Stefanik confirmed to the Washington Examiner that staffers had “received calls from New York parents whose students were unlawfully turned away or required to wear masks today” and that parents were complaining about how unmasked students were “being threatened with detention, being shamed, being dragged out of schools, isolated, or having their grades threatened.”

In Virginia, Carrie Lukas took her two elementary school-age children to Forestville Elementary School, a part of Fairfax County Public Schools, without their masks Tuesday, only to be told that they would not be allowed to attend class.

In an interview with the Washington Examiner, Lukas said that the school had positioned a security guard outside the school, along with a public relations official to meet with members of the media.

Lukas, who works for the conservative Independent Women’s Network, said that she met with the school’s vice-principal, who she says deliberately avoided saying that her two children would be suspended while also saying they would be barred from the school if they did not wear a mask.

“You could tell she didn’t want to have to say that my kids were suspended,” Lukas said. “I’m sure from a legal angle, they were trying to avoid having to use those words, and I, also from a legal angle, wanted them to [be] explicit in saying that.”

The Daily Wire reported Tuesday that Forestville Elementary called the police over the presence of its reporter, who was documenting Lukas’s attempt to send her children to school unmasked.

While her children did not attend school on Tuesday, Lukas said she didn’t want them to miss any more class days and sent them on the bus to attend school while masked Wednesday.

“It’s just crazy that at this point, we continue to put such a heavy burden on kids,” Lukas said, noting that her 7-year-old son had never attended school without wearing a mask.


“It’s usually, you know, the cloth masks or one of those, like, really cheap disposables,” she said. “He’s pulling it down, he’s putting it on his desk, he takes it off, and, you know, he’s a 7-year-old boy. They come back dirty and kind of damp. It’s gross.”

“I find it insulting that there just seems to be no moment where they’re going to say, the parents have a right to make a choice,” she added.

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