The legal landscape on masking requirements in Virginia just became much more clear.
Yesterday, a federal district court judge granted a preliminary injunction sought by disabled students whose medical conditions or disabilities place them at higher risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19. The judge enjoined enforcement of a Virginia state law and an executive order to the extent that these laws prevent plaintiffs’ schools from providing them with the accommodation of required masking.
Many parents wonder what this ruling means for their children and their children’s schools. The 56 page long opinion makes it clear that the accommodation of community masking in schools is available to students under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.
According to the ACLU: “The preliminary injunction prohibits the state defendants from enforcing Executive Order 2 or SB 739 against the 10 school districts in which the 12 plaintiffs live if those schools make accommodations for the Plaintiffs, ensuring safe access to education. While the injunction is limited to these 12 students, it is clearly a blueprint for any parent of a student with disabilities to assure their school district can make accommodations when the safety of their children is at stake and that state law cannot stand in the way.”
The judge wrote: “E.O. 2 and S.B. 739—just like any other state law—cannot preclude Plaintiffs from asking for some required masking as a reasonable modification, nor can they bar Plaintiffs’ schools from implementing some required masking, if in fact, it would constitute a reasonable modification under federal law.”