In defiance of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s executive order banning mask mandates in schools, Fairfax County Public Schools is suspending students who do not comply with the district’s face covering demands.
The same district that kept students at home for months in the name of avoiding Covid-19 spread, and where one school demanded that high schoolers play “privilege bingo,” is denying students who don’t wear masks access to their classrooms and in-person learning.
The school district is also bullying families who don’t comply with its mask mandates, using security guards and even local law enforcement to ensure that no one enters Fairfax schools without a face covering.
Carrie Lukas, a Fairfax County mom and president of the Independent Women’s Forum, told The Federalist that her two elementary-aged children are just a handful of the unmasked students who showed up to school on Tuesday ready to learn but were denied access to their classrooms for not wearing face coverings.
“If you’re just a mom who wants to express her opinion, it’s incredibly intimidating to have them calling the police. It was just totally weird and unnecessary,” Lukas said. “And I think, at least for me, it confirmed that Fairfax County [schools] … are basically making it seem as though parents, as if we were a threat.”
Lukas said that while the school administrators were polite with her and let her children leave with just an excused absence on their records, the security guard hired by FCPS was “aggressively barking” at both local parents who tried to drop their students off at the elementary school without masks and Daily Wire journalist Luke Rosiak. The guard even called the police on local journalists such as Rosiak for allegedly refusing to stand in a “media staging” area away from the school.
Lukas said that for her kids to continue learning according to their academic schedule, they will have to comply with the district’s mask demands until they hear from the governor’s office on how Youngkin plans to enforce the mask mandate ban.
Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is another Fairfax County working mom whose middle-schooler and two elementary students were suspended from learning for the second day in a row on Wednesday because they would not wear masks to class.
“My sons are the victims of your political battle with the state to deny parental rights outlined in Executive Order 2,” Lundquist-Arora wrote in an email to school administrators on Wednesday. “…If FCPS continues to deny them in-person education, I believe it is the district’s responsibility to pay tuition to a school that can accommodate my sons’ needs.”
Lundquist-Arora told The Federalist that FCPS administrators are trying to use an amended version of the district’s dress code to justify suspending students without masks, but the Student Rights and Responsibilities document her family signed in September 2021 did not mention face coverings as a requirement.
“They’ve never been so enthusiastic to suspend kids over dress code violations before as they are now,” Lundquist-Arora said.
She also told The Federalist that while many parents are uncomfortable with how FCPS is forcing masks on students, they fear retaliation if they speak out.
“I’m in touch with a lot of friends who, some of them, didn’t want to defy what the superintendent was saying because they were afraid of the suspensions,” Lundquist-Arora said. “They have kids on athletic teams and stuff like that. So a lot of my friends who have problems with this are afraid to stand up because their children have a lot more to lose.”
Youngkin recently reaffirmed that his executive order is designed so that “parents should have the ability to decide whether their child should wear masks for the duration of the school day,” but so far, multiple Virginia school districts are ignoring his pleas for compliance.
FCPS is one of the seven school districts suing the Republican and his administration over the executive order, which it claims is keeping the administration from “maintaining a healthy, safe learning environment for all.” Until a court rules on the lawsuit, however, Youngkin’s order stands. This means that school districts such as FCPS that defy the mask mandate ban are intentionally and directly violating Virginia law.
FCPS did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment. The school district also did not immediately answer questions about how long it plans to deny education to children, some as young as 6 or 7 years old, who are repeatedly suspended for not wearing masks.
Updated Feb. 3
Loudoun County parents fed up with Loudoun County Public Schools’ mask tyranny filed a complaint on February 1 and asked a circuit court to intervene. Two days after parents filed a complaint, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares announced that the state and Youngkin would join the suit.