A federal judge in Virginia on March 23 sided with the families of immunocompromised children who had asked that the schools their children attend require face masks to be worn.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the parents of twelve children who suffer from disabilities that they say would put them at significant health risk if they were to contract COVID-19.
These disabilities and illnesses include cancer, cystic fibrosis, moderate to severe asthma, chronic lung disease, Down syndrome, and weakened immune systems. One of the children has had two kidney transplants, while another has had twelve surgeries in his right lung, which is half the size of his left lung.
All of the children have been vaccinated against COVID-19 “to the extent eligible,” plaintiffs said.
Prior to that, Youngkin signed an order that stipulated the same requirements, effectively banning mask mandates.
The governor said of the law that it was aimed at “restoring power back to parents” and giving them the “rights to make decisions” regarding their children.
But the parents of the twelve immunocompromised children sued, claiming that the order violates their rights under federal law, specifically, the Americans with Disabilities Act (or ADA) and the Rehabilitation Act.
“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504), both state agencies and public schools are obligated to provide reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to give students with disabilities an equal opportunity to benefit from public education,” Moon said.
The Children of the families attend 10 different school districts in Virginia including in Albemarle, Bedford, Loudoun, and Fairfax counties, among others.
However, the judge stressed that the preliminary injunction was not undoing the previous executive order issued by Gov. Youngkin which made masks optional. He also stressed that the order was limited to the 12 families who had sued alone.
A preliminary injunction means that the block on no-masks will be in place temporarily. It could be removed in the future or it could be made permanent.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Virginia praised the decision, stating that not wearing masks at schools “puts the lives of immunocompromised students at risk and force students to choose between their education & their health.”