VA school superintendent defies ban on school mask mandates

Upon taking office as Governor of Virginia, one of the first things that Glenn Youngkin did was to take a page from the Ron Desantis playbook and issue an executive order forbidding public schools from imposing face mask mandates, leaving the decision about masking up to the parents. That clearly didn’t sit well with Scott Brabrand, the Superintendent of Fairfax County Public Schools. He responded by publishing a “Principal Briefing” presentation instructing school administration officials to suspend students who were not in compliance with the order. But Brabrand seemed to be trying to be clever by listing face masks as part of the school dress code, allowing for suspensions based on that criteria. So now there is a standoff between the county and the Governor over this issue. (Daily Wire)

Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) Superintendent Dr. Scott Brabrand on Friday issued a 34-page “Principal Briefing” PowerPoint presentation at a meeting with school administrators that ordered them to suspend students who refuse to wear a mask.

Asra Nomani from Parents Defending Education posted the presentation on her substack, noting that Brabrand had gone “rogue” in defiance of newly minted Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) executive order allowing parents to decide whether their child will wear a mask in school.

The presentation posted by Nomani noted that refusing to wear a mask would count as a “Dress Code” violation and be subject to suspension.

Brabrand isn’t just involved in a dispute with the Governor here. The Virginia Department of Education and Virginia Department of Health have both already issued new guidance in keeping with the Governor’s executive order, allowing parents to make the choice as to whether or not they want their children to be masked in class.

If the schools stick with Brabrand’s policy, students who refuse to wear a mask indoors or on the bus or remove their mask after arrival will initially receive a suspension of one day. They will then have the option to return with a mask the following day or potentially face a longer suspension with the option of logging on to attend virtual classes.

Given that the state Department of Education has already weighed in on the subject, it might be Brabrand who winds up being suspended. That would be a hilarious bit of irony if it were to happen, but it sounds like nobody is rushing to escalate this battle, or at least not yet.

It’s difficult to ignore the stench of hypocrisy that’s coming from some of the parties involved in this dispute. All across the country, we’ve seen the progressives from the teachers’ unions cheering for executive mandates when those mandates call for mandatory COVID mitigation procedures or sending children home for “virtual learning.” But when an executive order comes along that goes the other way, suddenly mandates don’t matter and everyone is apparently supposed to just do their own thing.

I still have trouble understanding the objections of people like Brabrand. Nothing in Glenn Younkin’s order forbids anyone from wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, or anything else they determine is the best COVID strategy for them. In fact, the new Governor has actually encouraged people to be vaccinated and take appropriate precautions. The only difference is that he’s not trying to use the power of the state to dictate their behavior or personal medical decisions.

I guess not everyone sees it that way. We’ll probably find out how this story ends after the first student is suspended for violating the policy. It’s a shame to see children being used as pawns in this sort of battle, but there will obviously be parents out there who tell their kids to not bother bringing a mask if they’re uncomfortable wearing one. And the principal who tries to enforce the “violation” by suspending them will likely be hearing from the Department of Education.

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