A federal judge sided with 12 families of children with disabilities and health challenges who say policies making masks optional in Virginia schools violate their rights.
The ruling allows the families who sued to ask their children’s schools to enforce mask requirements while their case moves through the courts. It does not throw out Virginia’s state law or an executive order signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin that allow parents to choose whether their child wears a mask to school.
Some parents of children with conditions like cancer, cystic fibrosis or weakened immune systems said Virginia's ban on mask mandates left their kids vulnerable to serious illness if they contracted COVID-19.
The families said they need some form of a mask mandate so their children can safely attend school.
On Wednesday, United States District Judge Norman K. Moon granted a preliminary injunction that allows those families to request mask requirements at their schools. Those schools can choose to comply without being penalized by the state, but they are not required to, the judge ruled.
Moon wrote that federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act, “requires that schools be able to consider and afford disabled students reasonable modifications from otherwise applicable state or local laws.”
He says the families could face irreparable harm if he didn’t grant the temporary relief from the state’s mask-optional policy.
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Four of the families involved in the suit are from Northern Virginia.
Their kids attend schools in Fairfax and Loudoun counties and Manassas City.
Other school districts affected by the suit are in Albemarle, Bedford, Chesapeake, Chesterfield, Cumberland, Henrico and York counties.
Most of the schools involved are elementary and middle schools.
Stay with News4 for more on this developing story.