The King William School Board voted four to one to send a letter to Governor Ralph Northam and other top Virginia officials criticizing a mask mandate in schools.
“We believe that Senate Bill 1303 passed by the Virginia General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Northam is unconstitutional. In its current form, this law oversteps the authority of both the General Assembly and the governor by encroaching on the authority granted to school boards by the Constitution of Virginia. This law is just one of many recent examples of government overreach that infringes upon our ability to fulfill our duties and make local decisions for our community,” the letter states.
SB 1303 was sponsored by Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) to require schools to provide full-time, in-person options. It received bipartisan support but only passed after a series of amendments. Northam and other Democratic leaders have cited a clause of the bill that requires school divisions to follow CDC mitigation strategies as justification for the mask mandate, earning criticism from Dunnavant and other Republicans. The letter asks for the mask mandate to be modified or rescinded at an upcoming board of health meeting.
In the Tuesday board meeting, Member Mark Lee noted that the school attorney had said that Northam and the health commissioner were not in violation of the Constitution. He said, “I think we’re overstepping our bounds by issuing this letter.”