Federal court bars Tennessee parents from withdrawing from school mask warrants – JURIST – News

The West Division of the United States District Court for the Western District of Tennessee issued a preliminary injunction on Friday to block Tennessee Governor Bill Lee. decree allowing Shelby County parents to opt out of school mask requirements, saying plaintiffs have established evidence that Lee’s order prevents children with health problems from going to school safely security during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The complainants are parents of students with health problems. The plaintiffs argued that Lee’s order violates the American Disabilities Act (ADA) because the order denies students the right to reasonable protection against the risk of exposure to COVID-19. In addition, the complainants asserted that the school universal interior mask mandate, which requires teachers, staff, students and visitors to wear masks, allows complainants to attend schools safely.

Agreeing with the complainants, Judge Sheryl Lipman wrote: “It is this unmasked presence that creates the danger for these complainants.

The Tennessee Attorney General’s Office has previously argued that parents could have requested redress individually instead of filing the federal complaint. Jim Newsom, counsel for the defendants, raised this point by questioning whether the plaintiffs had sought help from the state’s education department with their children’s individual education programs. Newsom also claimed that schools can change timetables so that vulnerable students can avoid unmasked people in the hallways. The court rejected these arguments, stating that universal masking is probably more cost effective than moving classrooms or adjusting schedules.

The court had already issued a temporary restraining order earlier this month to prevent schools from allowing parents to withdraw from school mask requirements. The preliminary injunction was due to expire on Friday.

While acknowledging that the blocking of the order was an extreme measure, Justice Lipman asserted that such a measure was necessary because Lee “took a step which violated the right of children with disabilities to access health care. public education “.

Thus, the court concluded: “the damage caused by the prohibition to execute the decree is not negligible, but the harm to the public if the executive decree were to remain in force is much more drastic. The public interest is served by an injunction.

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