NASHVIILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee’s latest COVID Omnibus Bill went before a federal judge Friday, as a portion of the bill is at the center of a lawsuit against the state’s top leaders.
Parents of eight students who all have disabilities and are at high risk of serious complications from COVID, are suing the state saying the new law violates their children’s rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Attorneys for the state say protecting students from COVID-19 is an individual responsibility, rather than a community responsibility.
A week ago, Governor Bill Lee signed a law which would prohibit school districts from implementing universal mask mandates unless under strict circumstances. The state argued there is no medical certainty of kids having contracted the virus in the classroom at a higher rate than in public places like birthday parties, church or dance classes.
The prosecution brought forth three witnesses, all of them doctors.
One of the witnesses is also the mother of a 13-year old girl who has down syndrome and is named in the lawsuit. While the witness says her daughter is at high risk of serious illness if she contracted COVID-19, she also needs in-person learning for her social and emotional development.
As part of their post-hearing filings, Judge Waverly Crenshaw asked both sides to answer whether or not the law discriminates against students with disabilities. Crenshaw is set to make a ruling after Thanksgiving.