Politics

Federal Judge Allows Texas’ Ban On Mask Mandates To Continue — For Now

Disability Rights Texas had asked the court to issue a temporary restraining order to allow schools to require masks ahead of a trial date in October.

Parents walk their kids to class at Sanchez Elementary in East Austin on Aug. 17.

A federal judge in Austin shut down an attempt by disability rights advocates to block Texas’ ban on mask mandates Wednesday, but their lawsuit challenging the ban will still head to trial next month.

Disability Rights Texas filed a lawsuit last month on behalf of several school-aged children, arguing the state’s ban on mask requirements violated their civil rights. Attorneys representing the 14 children sought a temporary restraining order to allow schools to require masks ahead of a trial date in October.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel denied that request Wednesday. If granted, the restraining order would’ve given legal cover for school districts across the state to require masking.

In a statement to KUT, Dustin Rynders, an attorney for Disability Rights Texas, said Yeakel’s decision was disappointing and that the group “will continue to work with our clients to obtain safe, in-person learning.”

In the complaint filed last month, Disability Rights Texas argued the state’s ban on masking requirements violated federal protections guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and was unconstitutional. If successful, the challenge would prohibit the state from banning mask mandates.

The students are all under 12 and cannot be vaccinated. Their families say they cannot attend in-person classes because of the risk of COVID-19. On top of that, some of the children require special education classes that aren’t conducive to virtual learning.

Disability Rights Texas named both Gov. Greg Abbott and Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath in the complaint.

The challenge heads to trial on Oct. 6.

This story originally appeared on KUT. If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it. Your gift pays for everything you find on KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.

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