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Here are the states where school mask warrant bans have been overturned in court, at least for now

By on September 8, 2021 0

Top line

A Florida judge ruled on Wednesday that the state’s ban on school mask warrants could not remain in effect while a lawsuit against him unfolded – the second time he blocked the policy – one of a series of nationwide court rulings overturning state policies that prohibit school districts from imposing mask warrants, at least temporarily.

Highlights

Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper released his ruling Wednesday allowing schools to issue mask warrants while the trial over whether the state’s ban is legal takes place in the appeals court .

Arkansas was the first state to have its ban on mask warrants revoked in early August, after parents filed a lawsuit against it and even Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he now regrets enacting the ‘ban on mandates for masks in schools.

Oklahoma’s ban on school mask warrants was temporarily suspended in early September until another hearing can take place, although the judge said schools must let parents remove their children from orders of masks if they wish.

The Tennessee executive order against school mask warrants, which required schools to let parents opt out, was temporarily overturned in a federal court on Friday after a judge ruled that the policy violated student rights under the Law on Americans with disabilities.

Texas voluntarily suspended its mandate ban on school masks in mid-August amid litigation against state policy unfolds, after several court rulings overturned the policy as it applied to specific districts.

School mask bans remain in place in Montana, Iowa, South Carolina, Utah and Arizona, where the government is enforcing its ban although it does not officially come into effect until September 29.

Contra

Unlike rulings overturning mask warrant bans, the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld that state’s policy and overturned Columbia City’s school mask warrant last week. However, this ruling applied closely to Columbia schools, and a second lawsuit against the policy is still pending.

What to watch out for

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s office said in a statement Wednesday that it intends to file an emergency motion to reinstate the suspension of Cooper’s decision, which would again ban school mask warrants if she succeeds . In addition to states that have already made rulings on banning school masks, lawsuits are also unfolding in Iowa, Utah and Arizona, which could result in the cancellation or continuation of the policies of these. States. The US Department of Education has opened civil rights investigations in states where mask bans remain in effect, which could expose them to potential sanctions, including prosecution by the US Department of Justice.

Key context

Cooper’s decision on Wednesday came after the Florida judge previously issued a preliminary injunction against the state’s school mask warrant ban, though it was almost immediately overturned when the state appealed Cooper’s decision and triggered an automatic stay that brought the ban back into effect. Cooper then canceled that stay on Wednesday, blocking the mask warrant ban for the second time. State-level policies against school mask mandates have become a particular source of contention as a new school year begins amid the wave of delta variants, which has left children ineligible for Covid-19 vaccines particularly vulnerable. In addition to legal challenges, a large number of school districts in most states with mask warrant bans have revolted against state policies by enacting mask warrants anyway, leading some states to threaten to consequences against those who do. Florida withheld funding for the state’s first two school districts that had mask requirements and moved forward with sanctions against other districts – at least before Cooper blocked the ban on Wednesday – although that did not dissuade districts from maintaining their mandates. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey also said the state would withhold federal funding from school districts that have mask mandates in place, although the Biden administration has encouraged Arizona school districts and others. States to keep their mask mandates in place. The White House said districts can use other federal funds allocated to them to offset funding cuts they may face from their state governments.

Further reading

Florida judge strikes down school mask warrant ban – again – state fails to punish schools (Forbes)

Oklahoma school mask warrant ban temporarily overturned by judge (Forbes)

Almost all states banning school mask warrants are now facing legal action, as a parent in Iowa sues (Forbes)

Montana Becomes Latest State To Restrict School Mask Mandates – Here’s The Full List (Forbes)

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