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Federal Judge Quashes Texas Mask Mandate Ban

Judge says ban on school mask mandates violates Americans With Disabilities Act
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 11, 2021 7:29 AM CST
Federal Judge Says Texas Schools Can Bring in Mask Mandates
Ector County ISD students and their parents wait in line to receive a Pfizer pediatric COVID-19 vaccine at Zavala Elementary School , Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Odessa, Texas.   (Jacob Ford/Odessa American via AP)

A federal judge has ordered a halt to the Texas ban on school mask mandates, saying it violates the rights of students with disabilities. Judge Lee Yeakel, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit advocacy group Disability Rights Texas, said Gov. Greg Abbott's order violated the Americans With Disabilities Act, which protects access to education, the New York Times reports. "The spread of COVID-19 poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs," Yeakel said, per the Texas Tribune. "Children with certain underlying conditions who contract COVID-19 are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit."

Yeaker's ruling banned Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from suing school districts that require students to wear masks, the AP reports. Paxton—who has already sued 15 districts to overturn mandates—tweeted Wednesday night that he "strongly disagrees" with the ruling and his office is "considering all legal avenues to challenge this decision." The Texas Supreme Court has repeatedly allowed the ban to remain in place, but the federal ruling is likely to have an impact on similar cases around the country, the Times reports. Kym Davis Rogers, an attorney for Disability Rights Texas, said the ruling shows Texas is not above federal law. (Read more Texas stories.)

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