Fairfax County, Virginia – Tomorrow, for the first time in nearly two years, parents in Virginia will all have the option to send their children to school unmasked. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) defied its legal obligations under both Governor Glenn Youngkin’s Executive Order 2 and the General Assembly’s SB739, and only after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidelines did FCPS announce masks would be optional. Despite the change in mask policy, the lawsuit brought by three Fairfax County parents — Carrie Lukas, Stephanie Lundquist-Arora, and Misty Lombardo — against the Fairfax County School Board and its Superintendent Scott Brabrand remains an ongoing concern.
As Paul M. Bartkowski, the plaintiffs’ lawyer, who is also a Fairfax County Public Schools parent, explains, “Through the lawsuit we filed, we intend to demonstrate the arbitrary, and therefore unlawful, nature of Fairfax County School’s imposition of the mask mandate. Perhaps more importantly, we intend to demonstrate that the decision to suspend students whose families exercised their right to have their children not wear ineffective, harmful masks while at school was arbitrary, overly harsh, and in violation of the law.”
Carrie Lukas, FCPS mother of five children and a leader of Independent Women’s Network, said, “This is a victory for parents’ rights in Virginia, but it should never have been so hard. FCPS’s fight to keep kids masked is a symptom of the larger issue that our school system has sought to control our kids and deny parents meaningful input into their health and education for too long. That also has to change.”
Fairfax County mother of three, Stephanie Lundquist-Arora continued, “It’s about time that FCPS follows the law and allows its students to have the option of not wearing a mask. Now, school board members and the superintendent need to expunge the illegal suspensions from the records of the children across the county, including my sons, who exercised their rights under state law. Given that my appeal emails to them regarding 15 days of unlawful suspension remain unanswered, I hope they do the right thing but their intentions are a real mystery.”
Fellow plaintiff and FCPS mother Misty Lombardo said, “I am thankful FCPS has chosen to, albeit begrudgingly, follow the law regarding parental choice. I am hopeful FCPS will encourage all staff and students to respect each other, whether they are masked or not.”
Independent Women’s Network, a project of Independent Women’s Voice, in partnership with Independent Women’s Forum, is a private community for women to come together to inspire, interact, influence, and have impact.