With schools and universities opening up as covid restrictions are removed, necessary mask mandates are being put into place to curb the spread of the disease. However, Gov. Greg Abbot disagrees with wearing masks and banned their mandatory use in school.
Fortunately, a federal judge stepped in and saved the situation. The Judge ruled Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s ban on school mask mandates violates federal law!
Judge’s Ruling on Gov. Greg Abbott’s Ban
The U.S District Judge Lee Yeakel explained in a twenty-nine-page ruling how Abbott’s law violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs. Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit.
This includes children with conditions including Down syndrome, organ transplants, lung conditions, heart conditions, and weakened immune systems.”
He further added, “The evidence presented by Plaintiffs establishes that Plaintiffs are being denied the benefits of in-person learning on an equal basis as their peers without disabilities.”
Judge’s Ruling For Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton
In his ruling, Judge Yeakel also prohibited Attorney General Ken Paxton from acting on the governor’s ban. The ban fines any individual or organization forcing mask mandates with 1000 dollars!
A request was made for Paxton’s comment on the ruling. However, his office has not accepted the request.
An advocacy group named Disability Right Texas along with families of disabled students filed a lawsuit in August. It was against the governor’s law. According to them, the mask mandate ban prevents students with disabilities from equal access to a safe education.
The group’s attorney Kym Davis Rogers explained the situation saying,
“Governor Abbott’s executive order violates federal law, and Attorney General Paxton’s enforcement of the order against school districts is now stopped.” Her statement also included, “As the court found, Texas is not above federal law, and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19.
We are thankful that school districts can now take the steps necessary to protect these students. No student should be forced to choose between forfeiting their education or risking their health, and now they won’t have to.”
The Department of Justice’s Vote Against Mask Mandate Ban
As in-person classes in Texas began in August, 200,000+ students have tested positive till now! Keeping this in mind, a statement of interest was filed by the Department of Justice. It argued that Abbott’s ban order harms disabled students.
The Justice Department released a statement saying,
“The serious adverse consequences on students with certain disabilities are readily foreseeable. Some parents of children at heightened COVID-19 risk will likely keep their children at home—even though the children could safely attend school if mask protocols could be put in place.”