Colorado judge blocks order allowing parents to opt students out of mask mandate

Colorado judge blocks order allowing parents to opt students out of mask mandate
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A Colorado judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked a county health department from allowing parents to opt their children out of school mask mandates, arguing in his decision that the exemption violated the American With Disabilities Act, The Denver Post reported.

Earlier this month, the Douglas County Health Department said in a public health order that if parents felt that masking children brought more harm than benefits, their children could be opted out of a school mask mandate. 

However, the county’s school district filed a lawsuit arguing that students with disabilities, who are more vulnerable to COVID-19, were having their health unnecessarily jeopardized by the order, according to the newspaper.

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U.S. District Judge John Kane sided with the school district, which is representing nine students with disabilities in their suit, saying accommodations to those students would be denied through the health order, The Denver Post reported.

The temporary restraining order will last until Nov. 8 and if the county health department and school district are unable to resolve the issue, a hearing on an injunction would proceed.

“I find the risk of irreparable harm to plaintiffs is significant and they have sufficiently demonstrated that the public health order denies student plaintiffs reasonable accommodations in the form of science-backed masking and quarantine requirements,” Kane said, according to the newspaper. 

Following Kane’s decision, the Douglas County Board of Health said in a statement on Tuesday that they “respectfully disagree with the court’s decision.”

“We remain confident that when we have more time to make a full case we will be able to demonstrate that the Douglas County Board of Health struck the proper balance of public health protection and parental involvement in health care decisions for their children,” the board said. 

Meanwhile, Douglas County School District said that they would continue implementing their mask mandate, with the exception of students with medical exemptions, and would reimplement some of their quarantine practices. 

“We understand that there may be families who disagree with this position and this step. However, we believe that this ruling allows us to remain committed to prioritizing the health, safety, and learning of every single child,” Superintendent Corey Wise said in a statement.

“We, as a school district, must ensure that all students – including those with disabilities and underlying medical conditions – can continue in-person learning and have an equal opportunity to thrive,” Wise added.