Fauci’s testimony proves that mask suspensions in public schools were politically motivated

In Fairfax County’s public schools, where drug possession on school grounds does not necessarily result in suspensions, political infractions, such as attending school maskless or “misgendering” peers, have been severely punished.

Fairfax County’s code of conduct transcends “the science.” Even students in elementary school know from the highly technical “smell a fart test” that masks do not stop the transmission of COVID-19. But this fact seems to have eluded the district’s leadership for years.

In January 2022, when the harms of mask mandates on children had become abundantly clear, the recently elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) implemented Executive Order Two, which gave Virginia’s parents the ability to opt out their children from wearing masks at school. In a defiant political response, Fairfax County’s school district leadership, including its 12 Democratic-endorsed school board members, surreptitiously altered its dress code to include masks in order to circumvent the governor’s executive order.

When the district’s students, including my sons, exercised their rights under state law and arrived at school without masks, school principals were forced to issue suspensions based on the new dress code. It is the first time in the district’s history that students were suspended for multiple days based on the dress code. The draconian punishment is almost laughable in light of what some students are wearing to school with impunity. 

And in case it was unclear before, now we know without a doubt that Fairfax County Public Schools’s “dress code” policy and its resulting punishment were based on something other than science.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s coronavirus adviser during the pandemic, testified in front of Congress last week that the recommended six feet of social distancing was not based on science. Earlier this year, Fauci further admitted that he could not recall reviewing studies that supported the masking of children in public schools.

As the mother of three students in Fairfax County’s public schools who were suspended for a cumulative total of 39 days for not wearing their masks, I think it is past time for the district to apologize to all of the students it unjustly suspended, and then issue expungements.

Yet last year, adding insult to injury, the school district’s seemingly vindictive leaders denied the expungement request for my sons, who were in third, fifth, and seventh grades when they were suspended. Notably, the suspensions will remain on my oldest son’s disciplinary record when he applies to college.

Each day that the elementary and middle school principals suspended my sons, they expressed regret. They also said that the appeal process would be at their discretion and requested that I appeal for expungement. But at some time between suspensions and appeal, the district commandeered that decision. I received two identically worded letters of refusal – one from each principal.

Perhaps relatedly, the district’s principals are leaving in droves — maybe because district leadership is creating a toxic environment for its school principals. I would imagine that many principals, for example, likely do not support the district playing games with children’s futures for political reasons and usurping their local discretion. In fact, from the 2020-21 school year to November 2023, 53 principals in Fairfax County’s public schools resigned or retired. Meanwhile, only nine principals in neighboring Loudoun County left during the same time period.

The mask suspensions and the leadership’s subsequent refusal to expunge them highlight its glaring hypocrisy. The Fairfax County School Board has had many meetings in the past couple years about how to reduce the district’s out-of-school suspensions for infractions such as drug possession and physical altercations. The district’s present concerns of chronic absenteeism also did not seem to be an issue for district leadership as it banned my young children from their classrooms for several days — 15 days for my then 8-year-old son. 

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How do we not interpret such decisions as clear examples of a two-tiered justice system in public schools? In the case of masking, the penalties for students found guilty of political transgressions are far more substantial than those committing more dangerous and violent infractions.

And now, Fauci has confirmed that the “science” school district officials claimed to follow was in fact not science after all. Fairfax County’s public school officials owe an apology to my sons and other students in the district who clearly were suspended in the name of politics, not science.

Stephanie Lundquist-Arora is a contributor for the Washington Examiner, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia, an author, and the Fairfax chapter leader of the Independent Women’s Network.

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