School mask mandates allowed to remain in place following injunction by Tennessee judge

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A portion of the recently signed “COVID Omnibus Bill,” which would restrict how the state will allow government bodies and businesses to operate in response to COVID-19, will be discussed in federal court this week.

Governor Bill Lee signed the law last Friday. However, on Sunday, Judge Waverly Crenshaw of the 6th Circuit issued an injunction after a group of parents filed a lawsuit against Gov. Lee and education leaders claiming the law potentially violates the Americans with Disabilities law.

According to the court order, the state is prevented from restricting mask mandates in schools.

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The lawsuit was filed by the parents of eight students who say their children have disabilities that make them medically vulnerable to COVID-19. 

“The easiest way to think about it, in terms of public education, is if you have a child who needs access to a ramp to access school, you could sue a school that did not build a ramp according to certain specification saying that {your} child doesn’t have a right or access to education like other children,” said Zack Buck, Associate ProfessorUniversity of Tennessee College of Law. “So, that’s a prototypical ADA type case. Then, the school would be required to build the ramp. It’s kind of the same argument here. It’s just in the world of COVID it’s applied in a different way.”

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A hearing has been set for Friday at 9 a.m. In the meantime, the status quo will remain in effect. 

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