Federal district judge Norman K. Moon has ruled with the families of 12 immunocompromised children, saying that they can request that their schools require other students to wear masks.
The lawsuit was filed in February in response to newly elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin signing an executive order making coronavirus face masks optional in schools and the General Assembly passing a similar law earlier this year. With disabilities ranging from cancer, asthma, weakened immune systems, Down syndrome or lung conditions, the plaintiffs argue that the law violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.
federal law supersedes state law and requires “reasonable modifications” for students with disabilities “from otherwise applicable state or local laws.”
While the judged did rule that these families were allowed to request the school require masks, it is important to note that Moon’s order does not suspend or strike down the state law making masks optional. The judge made clear that his ruling only applies to the schools and classrooms relevant to the plaintiffs in the case, not schools across the state, which Youngkin’s team hails as a win. Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares (R), a defendant in the suit along with Youngkin, the state’s superintendent of schools and its acting health commissioner, said in a statement:
“Today’s ruling affirms that Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order 2 and Senate Bill 739 is the law of Virginia and parents have the right to make choices for their children.”
The school would be allowed to judge how to implement reasonable accommodations for the students and the entire school wouldn’t need to be masked but rather just those around the immunocompromised student, according to The Hill.