Loudoun County Schools punishing kids who don’t wear masks by putting them in rubber room no lessons

The Loudoun County School District – which has been plagued by scandal after scandal over critical race theory-inspired ‘equity’ lessons and transgender issues – is now at the center of fresh wave of controversy after schools prevented pupils from going into their classrooms if they were not wearing a facemask on Monday.

Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin had signed an executive action within hours of him taking office on January that aimed to let parents opt out of school mask mandates.

The order was supposed to take effect on Monday but confusion has swirled over the implications since then.

His instructions were either interpreted differently by some districts or plainly ignored with schools continuing to keep pre-existing mask mandates in place for students. 

Republican Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order within hours of entering office rescinding mask mandates for schools from Monday, but it appears the policy has been met with confusion

Republican J.P. Freire, Director of Communications on the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means tweeted that children were being ‘punished’ and kept outside classrooms or teaching

Freire quickly followed up with a second tweet and a link to a local news report after being contacted by people expressing disbelief that children might be barred from lessons

Some districts interpreted the order as being at odds with a state law that deals with COVID-19 mitigation in schools. 

The first sign something was amiss came as Republican J.P. Freire, Director of Communications on the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means tweeted that children were being ‘punished.’

‘Just got a heads up that Loudoun County Schools are punishing kids who don’t wear masks by putting them in the equivalent of a rubber room without access to instruction. Teachers insisting kids wear masks regardless of the Governor’s order and saying wait until SCOTUS decision.’

He quickly followed up with a second tweet and a link to a local news report after being contacted by people expressing disbelief that children might be barred from lessons. 

‘A lot of folks replying that this can’t possibly be true—likely because it seems so unreasonable and ridiculous.’   

One Twitter user referenced a local news report detailing how students at one Loudoun County Public school would be removed from class if they didn’t wear a face mask

Students are pictured walking into school on Monday without masks at Woodgrove High School 

Loudoun County school district spokesperson Wayde Byard said no students were sent home on Monday morning for defying the mask order.

Those who refused to wear masks were routed to school auditoriums where they could do virtual work through the school’s online platform, he said. 

Lunch periods were adjusted to ensure maskless students would receive lunch, he explained.   

in Purcellville, Virginia, northwest of Washington D.C., about 30 students out of more than 1,400 refused to wear masks. 

They were seen entering their school chanting ‘no mask Monday!’

About dozen parents outside Woodgrove High School cheered them on. 

Four or five parents opted to pull their children. The rest stayed at the school, isolated from masked peers.

He said there were angry parents at a few schools, but principals defused the situations.

‘It was pretty much a non-event,’ Byard said.  

Principal William Shipp said any student who did not wear a mask would be taken out of class and put in the school’s auditorium for virtual learning. 

‘You will not be able to go out into the rest of the building if you do not have a mask on,’ Shipp said. 

‘We wanted our kids to have that choice,’ one mother told WTOP. ‘And we fully support those that feel safest in a mask, also those that feel that the mask is impeding their learning or their health. So we’re just out here in support of their decision and their choice.’ 

Students walked out of Loudoun County public schools on Tuesday in protest against the county’s handling of a rape allegation after a judge found the boy accused guilty 

Parents said they were simply following the executive order from the governor.

‘We followed (former Gov.) Northam and his executive orders,’ said another parent.

 ‘Nobody retaliated; nobody rose up. We followed it because we are law-abiding citizens and we’re doing the same thing now. We’re following the new governor’s orders. You cannot pick and choose because of the letter behind the governor’s name. And I feel like that’s what (Loudoun County Superintendent Scott) Ziegler and the school board are doing.’  

One mother in Loudoun County sobbed as she explained on a radio show how when her son went to school without a mask on, he was ‘strong armed and intimidated by his principal.’ 

‘We’ve just gotten to a point which is – unbelievable what they’re doing to our kids, They wont let my son go to his classroom because he won’t wear a mask, because he’s exercising his rights, and they’re forcing him to sit in the office. He’s been strong armed and intimidated by his principal and many others,’ said Loudoun County mother Megan Rafalski to WMAL.

One mother in Loudoun County sobbed as she explained on a radio show how when her son went to school without a mask on, he was ‘strong armed and intimidated by his principal.’

He has a friend and they’re sticking together and they’re trying to stand up for their rights. But we are not getting any answers. I tried to call the administrative office. The principal made us stand outside in the freezing cold all morning, since 7:30am.

‘All we wanted is for our kids to be able to go to class with their peers and have fun and smile and learn. And I don’t know where else to turn at this point, other than to plead with people out there to stand up, because this is going to continue until we stand together and we start to make change,’ Rafalski continued. 

Elicia Brand, a Loudoun County parent and co-founder of Army of Parents, a Virginia-based grassroots organization, opposes the mask mandates but said she is understanding for now of the fact that Youngkin advised parents to listen to local principals.

‘We will hold him accountable to have our backs,’ she said. ‘He has to remember it was parents who put him in office.’

She said she gave her own middle school children the opportunity to decide for themselves whether to wear masks, and they chose to do so, in part because they did not want to stand out. 

She said she observed varied responses from principals across the county in how respectfully they treated maskless children.

Governor Youngkin’s mask order now faces a legal challenge filed by a group of parents and another filed Monday morning by seven school boards. Youngkin has urged patience and asked parents to listen to their children’s school principals for the time being.

‘Listen to a principal today. And I know that there are some school systems that are doing things that are inconsistent with respecting the rights of parents. … Let´s respect it right now and let this legal process play out,’ he said in an interview with Richmond radio station WRVA.

In the meantime, he said parents should ‘love one another, treat one another with respect – and listen to principals.’ 

Monday’s legal challenge was brought by seven school boards that filed a lawsuit in Arlington County Circuit Court seeking to block the executive order.

In addition to Fairfax, the state´s most populous jurisdiction, the school boards in Alexandria, Richmond, Hampton, Falls Church, Arlington County and Prince William County, joined the suit. Collectively, the jurisdictions represent more than 350,000 students.

The lawsuit argues the state constitution gives local school boards the authority to run their districts. It also cites a state law that requires school systems to follow federal health guidelines, which include recommendations for universal masking.

‘At issue is whether locally-elected school boards will maintain the exclusive authority and responsibility conferred upon them by Article VIII, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia to supervise the public schools in their respective school divisions or whether the Governor can unilaterally infringe upon that authority through an executive order,’ the lawsuit states.

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said the administration was disappointed that the school boards were acting counter to parents’ rights.

‘The governor and attorney general are in coordination and are committed to aggressively defending parents´ fundamental right to make decisions with regard to their child’s upbringing, education and care, as the legal process plays out,’ she said in a statement.

Supporters of the executive order say the state law is not in conflict with Youngkin’s executive order because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only recommends mask-wearing and does not mandate it.

But Fairfax County School Board Chair Stella Petarsky said the existing mask mandate has allowed the school system to maintain in-person learning throughout the school year.

‘We have held transmission levels low,’ she said. ‘We have not had to shut a single school because of COVID. We’ve kept our kids in the classroom, and we’re going to do everything in our power to ensure that we continue that.’

Democrats commended the school boards who filed suit against Youngkin on Monday and accused the governor of using children as political pawns.

‘Youngkin is quickly on his way to becoming the most divisive and authoritarian governor in our commonwealth´s long history,’ state Senator Mamie Locke said at a news conference. 

Loudoun County School District was also at the center of woke school board arguments over the teaching of critical race theory, or CRT, in classrooms last summer

The District also made headlines last year after they ‘covered up a sexual assault on school grounds for political gain’

The Loudoun County School District previous made headlines last year after they ‘covered up a sexual assault on school grounds for political gain, leading to an additional assault of a young girl.’ 

Indeed, Virginia’s Loudoun County was a focal point in Youngkin’s gubernatorial race against former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe after a skirt-wearing 14-year-old male high school student, identifying as non-binary, was arrested over the rape of a female student in a school bathroom. 

That male student was then transferred to a different school where he then allegedly raped another student.

The district has been accused of covering up the crime and saw one of the alleged victim’s parents arrested at a school board meeting.

The student involved has been placed on the sex offenders registry for life as part of his sentence. 

Shelley Slebrch and other angry parents and community members protest after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down last June

The district also made the news over the matter of Critical Race Theory. 

Loudon County, a Democratic stronghold in northern Virginia, became the focal point of debate over woke policies by school boards across the country. 

Parents voiced their frustration with the state’s woke school board saying they did not want their children to be taught that they’re bad or good depending on their race. 

The use of critical race theory, or CRT, in education has been criticized for its message that the US is built on racism with skin color determining the social, economic, and political differences between each. 

Advocates say its teaching is necessary to underline how deeply racism pervades society, while critics say it is divisive and paints everyone as a victim or oppressor, with multiple Virginia school board meetings making headlines after parents were filmed clashing with staff over the decision to teach it.  

The Loudoun County School District – which has been plagued by scandal after scandal. Pictured, a man is detained after a fight broke out during a Loudoun County School Board meeting which included a discussion of Critical Race Theory and transgender students

Governor Youngkin pledged to ban CRT, seizing on the discontent of parents who had grown agitated after the Loudon County school board last April announced a $6million ‘equity-training’ program that parents associated with CRT.       

The ‘equity training’ which was met with strong opposition by some residents.

Parents claimed that training was part of a pro-CRT push which would lead to students seeing themselves as victims or oppressors, depending on their race. 

Protests then reignited in September, when the school board voted 6-3 in favor of beginning a study into whether it would be appropriate to give reparations to black people after it previously ignored a landmark desegregation ruling. 

On the day Youngkin took office, he signed an executive order banning CRT from schools and said he would open an investigation into the Loudoun County School Board’s actions. 

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