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Tennessee battles lawsuit over school mask ban in court

(Source: WSFA)
Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 4:53 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 10, 2022 at 6:03 AM CST
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The battle over masks in schools continues Monday. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the state’s education secretary are facing a lawsuit over a law that bans mask mandates in schools.

There will be a status hearing for that lawsuit Monday. Shortly after the law banning mask mandates was signed last fall, a lawsuit was filed against Lee and Education Secretary Penny Schwinn.

The plaintiffs include children between eight and 14 who attended school across the state of Tennessee, two of the students attend schools in Germantown and Collierville.

One of the students is an eight-year-old boy who has autism and severe pediatric ulcerative colitis with a compromised immune system. The other student is a fourteen-year-old girl who has primary immunodeficiencies.

All of the students involved in the lawsuit have a disability and immunodeficiencies. Their parents argue the law banning mask mandates in schools makes it impossible for public schools to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The law also only allows for public schools to issue a mandate if the county where the school is located shows a 14-day rolling average of 1,000 new cases per 100,000 residents and the mandate could only last for two weeks.

Under the law, schools risk funding being pulled by the Tennessee Department of Education if they implement a school mask mandate outside these conditions.

District court judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. That prevented Lee and Schwinn from enforcing the new state law.

On Dec. 10 the Lee filed an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. The appeal is still pending. On Dec. 30, he filed a motion for a stay on the preliminary injunction.

The judge has yet to rule on the motion.

For now, many schools are able to enforce mask mandates as this plays out in court.

The lawsuit status hearing will begin at 10 a.m.

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