Appeals court upholds Texas block on school mask mandates

Jul 26, 2022, 10:22 AM | Updated: 10:51 am

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s executive order that forbids school districts from imposing mask mandates on schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been upheld by a divided federal appeals court panel.

The ruling from the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ended a lower federal court injunction allowing such mandates.

Families of seven children with disabilities — the court record listed Down syndrome, asthma, attention deficit hyperactivity, epilepsy, heart defects and cerebral palsy, among others — had sued, saying the children were vulnerable and that the lack of a masking requirement at their schools endangered their health.

Writing for the majority in a 2-1 ruling Monday, Judge Andrew Oldham said there are other options for schools to accommodate the children’s health concerns. He specifically mentioned vaccines, plexiglass barriers, use of hand sanitizer and social distancing.

“It is plainly within the State’s power to remove one possible accommodation from consideration, so long as other reasonable options remain,” Oldham wrote in the opinion issued Monday, rejecting arguments that the prohibition on mask mandates violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal law. Judge Don Willett concurred in the judgment.

Judge W. Eugene Davis dissented. Davis agreed that the lower court injunction was “overbroad.” But, he said, the courts should allow the school districts to impose mask mandates at the schools attended by the seven students.

“Because of their disabilities and based on the testimony of their personal physicians, the district court found that because of their heightened susceptibility of contracting COVID-19 and, if contracted, a heightened risk of severe illness or death from it, the children could not safely attend school where they would be in close proximity to unmasked students or staff members,” Davis wrote.

The 5th Circuit handles appeals of federal decisions in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi. Oldham and Willett were appointed to the court by former President Donald Trump; Davis, by former President Ronald Reagan.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Facebook Photo/City of San Luis, Arizona)...
Associated Press

San Luis authorities receive complaints about 911 calls going across border

Authorities in San Luis say they are receiving more complaints about 911 calls mistakenly going across the border.
5 days ago
(Pexels Photo)...
Associated Press

Daylight saving time begins in most of US this weekend

No time change is observed in Hawaii, most of Arizona, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa, Guam and the Northern Marianas.
13 days ago
Mexican army soldiers prepare a search mission for four U.S. citizens kidnapped by gunmen in Matamo...
Associated Press

How the 4 abducted Americans in Mexico were located

The anonymous tip that led Mexican authorities to a remote shack where four abducted Americans were held described armed men and blindfolds.
13 days ago
Tom Brundy points to a newly built irrigation canal on one of the fields at his farm Tuesday, Feb. ...
Associated Press

Southwest farmers reluctant to idle farmland to save water

There is a growing sense that fallowing will have to be part of the solution to the increasingly desperate drought in the West.
20 days ago
A young bison calf stands in a pond with its herd at Bull Hollow, Okla., on Sept. 27, 2022. The cal...
Associated Press

US aims to restore bison herds to Native American lands after near extinction

U.S. officials will work to restore more large bison herds to Native American lands under a Friday order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.
20 days ago
Children play in a dried riverbed in Flassans-sur-Issole, southern France, Wednesday, March 1, 2023...
Associated Press

Italy, France confront 2nd year of western Europe drought

ROME (AP) — Bracing for Italy’s second consecutive year of drought for the first time in decades, Premier Giorgia Meloni huddled with ministers Wednesday to start mapping out an action plan Wednesday, joining France and other nations in western Europe grappling with scant winter rain and snow. Meloni and her ministers decided to appoint an […]
22 days ago

Sponsored Articles

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...
Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Appeals court upholds Texas block on school mask mandates