King William School Board Sends Letter to Governor, Health Officials Asking for End to Mask Mandate


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 The letter asks for the mask mandate to be modified or rescinded at an upcoming board of health meeting.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.”

Member Terry Stone said, “I certainly respect the fact that our legal counsel advised us that the health commissioner has the authority to place this order in action, and it does apply to local school boards, and it does apply to the activity within the confines of our building.”
“I think what one of the concerns is that, and some of the parents mentioned it and I agree, our students outside of the school building are interacting together without masks,” Stone continued. “How can we define it as a bona fide public emergency and then single out that it only applies in certain public buildings and interestingly enough, the public buildings that are chosen are the very public buildings that in the state of Virginia local school boards are supposed to have complete jurisdiction over.”
As elected officers, we represent the varied thoughts, opinions, and perspectives of our community. Many of the residents of King William County have shared their opinions and thoughts with our board. The supervision of public schools in our community is vested in our local school board, not in the Governor’s Office, the General Assembly, or the Health Commissioner. We respectively request that revisions to Senate Bill 1303 be made immediately,” the letter states.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Students wearing masks” by King William County Public Schools.






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