Federal Judge Rules Texas Ban Of Mask Mandates Violates Disability Act

A federal judge has ruled that Texas schools can require masks. 

U.S. District Court Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in Austin that the state ban, ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, violates federal laws protecting disabled students’ access to public education. The ruling halts the state’s crusade against mask mandates in state schools. 

The Americans with Disability Act was a landmark 1990 federal law that includes protections for students with special needs. In the ruling, the judge said that the spread of Covid poses an even greater risk for children with special health needs, and that children with underlying health conditions who contract Covid are more likely to have severe effects and hospitalization. 

Supporters of mask mandates say that the masks are needed to continue fighting Covid. This comes as the U.S. sees another upward trend of Covid cases in many states. 

At the end of July, Abbott issued an executive order imposing a ban against mask mandates. A few days later, nonprofit advocacy group Disabled Rights Texas filed a lawsuit against the state and top officials, arguing the measure prohibited accommodations for disabled children who were vulnerable to Covid. 

The governor in August also called on Texas’ Conservative-ruled legislature to draw up a law that reinforced his ban on mask mandates, but this has not been passed. 

Under the ruling, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will be prohibited from imposing fines, withholding funding from educational institutions, and suing school districts with mask mandates. He has already sued 15 school districts for their mask mandates. 

The ruling could have implications for similar bans in other states. 

Paxton unsurprisingly disagreed with the ruling. Mask mandates in the U.S. have become widely politicized, with Republicans and Conservatives lashing out against Covid protection measures and vaccines, even when they themselves are vaccinated. Nearly 100 percent of all of the U.S. Congress are vaccinated, and every governor, both Republican and Democrat, are as well. 

Paxton claims he will pursue an appeal to the ruling. 

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