ACLU seeks halt to South Carolina ban on school mask decrees

ACLU seeks halt to South Carolina ban on school mask decrees


Disability rights groups and parents of children with disabilities want an immediate halt to a South Carolina law banning school districts from requiring face masks, as students across the state begin a new school year amid a renewed rise in coronavirus cases.

Last week, the groups and parents filed for a temporary restraining order blocking the law from being enforced, while their lawsuit challenging the measure proceeds.

"Defendants are illegally forcing South Carolina families who have children with disabilities to choose between their child’s education and their child’s health and safety," wrote attorneys for the groups, who are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ban, they wrote, "needlessly and unconscionably exposes South Carolina school children and their families to a heightened risk of infection, hospitalization, and death."

State officials have until Sept. 9 to respond to the request in court.

A budget measure passed this summer prevents school districts from using any state funding to require masks in schools. But some districts and cities across South Carolina have disregarded the ban, moving forward with implementing school mask mandates. The state’s attorney general is suing the capital city of Columbia over one such provision, with arguments expected later this week in the South Carolina Supreme Court.

The ACLU lawsuit, filed earlier this month against top state officials including Republican Gov. Henry McMaster, alleges that the mask mandate ban disproportionately affects students with underlying health conditions or disabilities, who are at risk of becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19.

The plaintiffs allege that the ban violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, under which public schools...

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