Judge rules 12 Virginia families with immunocompromised kids can ask schools to require masks
A federal judge in Virginia ruled on Wednesday that a dozen families of children who are immunocompromised can ask the schools their children attend to require face masks be worn.
The ruling comes after the families in February filed a lawsuit against Virginia and state officials after an executive order and bill passed by the state legislature made mask-wearing optional in schools. The lawsuit argued the laws violated the rights of the families’ children, who it said would face substantial health risks if they contracted COVID-19 due to their disabilities.
U.S. District Judge Norman Moon issued a preliminary injunction granting the 12 families the right to request that the schools mandate masking.
Moon made clear he was not mandating that the schools require face masks, and he was not overriding the masks-optional executive order issued by Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) on his first day in office or the law passed by the state legislature.
Moon said the parents are likely to succeed on the merits of their claim based off federal law, which “requires that schools be able to consider and afford disabled students reasonable modifications from otherwise applicable state or local laws.”
The parents have children in schools across the state, including in Loudoun and Fairfax counties, according to the complaint.
Both sides touted the ruling as a victory.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia said it was “glad the court agreed.”
“No student should have to risk their lives to go to school,” the ACLU tweeted.
Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R), a defendant in the suit along with Youngkin, the state’s superintendent of schools and its acting health commissioner, said in a statement the ruling “affirms” as law both the governor’s executive order and the law passed by the state legislature and signed by Youngkin.
“Parents have the right to make choices for their children,” Miyares said.
The group of parents sued last month, joining at least two other legal challenges to Youngkin’s masks-optional executive order.
The parents of children with disabilities said their children struggle with cancer, cystic fibrosis, moderate to severe asthma, Down syndrome, lung conditions and weakened immune systems. In the lawsuit, they argued that the state laws violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
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