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Students wearing masks in school

Federal judge overrules Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's order prohibiting mask mandates in schools

Nov. 15, 2021
The state's ban on mask mandates violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, the judge found.

Texas schools have the authority to impose mask mandates, a federal judge has ruled.

The Texas Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's executive order prohibiting mask mandates in schools violates the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

“The spread of Covid poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs,” Yeakel said. “Children with certain underlying conditions who contract Covid are more likely to experience severe acute biological effects and to require admission to a hospital and the hospital’s intensive-care unit.”

The judge said the governor's order impedes children with disabilities from the benefits of public schools’ programs, services and activities to which they are entitled.

An advocacy group, Disability Rights Texas, filed the legal challenge to Abbott's order.

Attorneys with the U.S. Department of Justice also weighed in with a formal statement. They argued that the banning of mask mandates in Texas public schools keeps disabled children from accessing in-person classes during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. They also argued that Texas schools can’t merely rely on online classes to avoid violating the ADA. Instead, the federal agency contends, Texas schools must offer disabled students every available class option.

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