‘Mask Up or Don’t Come Back to School’: Suspensions Sideline Students in Northern Virginia

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The drama over school mask mandates continues in Virginia.  

The new Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order right after being sworn in last month making them optional.  

But some school districts are making masks mandatory in school anyway, including Loudoun County.  After warnings from school administrators, 29 students were suspended for showing up without a mask.  

Siblings 7-year-old Joshua, 10-year-old Brayden, and 13-year-old Madeline Platt are among them. Madeline told CBN News her principal even gave her a dire warning before suspending her.   

“They said it will go on my record and they said it could affect when I go to college,” said Madeline.  

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The Platt children along with more than two dozen students showed up unmasked anyway after Youngkin nixed the mandate saying he wanted to give parents more control over their children’s education.    

“We were like ‘Hallelujah, Hallelujah!,” said Abbie Platt. 

It was welcome news to the Platts who say masks give Madeline headaches, make it hard for Brayden to understand his teachers, and aggravate Joshua’s breathing.

“It made my asthma worse. It made me feel like I wasn’t breathing, said Joshua, a first-grader,” said Joshua.   

“They don’t talk about anxiety. They don’t talk about health. They don’t tell you the long-term impact of what this does to children, said Abbie.     

But the relief from Youngkin’s announcement didn’t last long. The children say when they returned to school, they learned they were banned from their classrooms and isolated from other students in auditoriums, libraries, offices, gyms, and other school spaces.       

“They took us to the library and kept us in there for 7 hours. Whenever they came in they told the class not to talk to us,” said Brayden.   

They also say there was no instruction.  

“We weren’t even being supervised. It was basically a little room in the back of the office,” said Cole Harcrow, a middle schooler.    

 “It’s quarter three. We’re learning new things. I have to watch YouTube tutorials,” said Annabelle Groce, who also goes to middle school.     

Loudoun is among dozens of Virginia school districts reportedly still enforcing mask mandates. A move outraging many parents who say they keep moving the goal post to remove them.   

“When did they become the executive branch of the law?” asked parent Jon Platt.    

These school systems could be on shaky legal ground, according to constitutional expert Brad Jacob who told CBN News, “The Constitution says they may not deny equal protection under the law. So, you have to make sure as a school you are treating students equally, they are all getting the same opportunities.”   

Lisa Harcrow said not only is Loudoun going against the governor’s edict but in her son’s case, doctor’s orders.   

“They said if we’re going to approve your medical exemption, we are going to have to approve everyone’s medical exemption,” she said.    

Some parents insist school officials are breaking their own rules. For example, invited guests have been seen partially or unmasked during the same time frame students were getting suspended. 

There have also been reports that children without a mask would be arrested. Though Superintendent Scott Ziegler emailed parents telling them schools don’t have the authority. 

But a recording is circulating of an elementary assistant principal warning parents that anyone who is unmasked could face changes. So is a staff email that instructed schools on how to obtain a warrant or summons.     

Loudoun County Public Schools denied our requests for an interview. But spokesman emailed us this statement saying in part: “Because this issue is currently the subject of litigation, it would be inappropriate for the superintendent to comment.”      

Meanwhile, the Platts and others now on the outside looking in, believe their kids have a legal right to an education even without a mask as the wheels of justice turn slowly.  

“As parents, it’s fundamentally and lawfully wrong,” said Jon Platt.    

“We’re like when can they come for their in-person education required by Virginia State law. They’re like whenever they put their mask back on,” said Muriel Groce.   


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