By: John Semmens
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares issued a legal opinion declaring that “the state’s public universities and colleges lack the authority to make vaccination a requirement for students attending these schools. Such authority is reserved to the State Assembly. Over the past two years the Assembly has addressed many aspects of the pandemic, but it has not granted university or college officials the power to force students to comply with any vaccination mandate.”
University of Virginia President James Ryan expressed opposition to Miyares’ opinion, saying that “waiting for the Assembly to make the laws is too cumbersome a procedure during an emergency. In our in loco parentis role, we have the responsibility to act in what we see as the best interests of our enrollees. Just as the President of the United States has had to rule by decree in the battle against covid, we too must seize this same power to save the lives of our students and faculty.”
Miyares rejected Ryan’s argument and countered with “emergency is not a legitimate rationale for bypassing the role of legislatures in protecting the freedoms of the people. Public schools cannot arrogate to themselves the in loco parentis argument to displace the actual parents of the students, many of whom who would object to injecting their children with a vaccine that science shows is unnecessary and potentially harmful to them.”
Meanwhile in neighboring Maryland, Prince George’s County Public Schools’ CEO Monica Goldson vowed “to continue requiring students to wear masks until covid no longer exists.” An event that she asserts “will probably never happen.” She went on to laud “our amazing adaptability handling the pandemic.” This is despite the lack of evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of masks and in the face of evidence that masks impede children’s intellectual and social development.