It is difficult to understand the reasoning of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee for giving parents the option of refusing their children to wear a mask that helps protect them and other children from the ravages of COVID.
Luckily for these kids, a third federal judge in a week blocked Lee’s order even as the US Department of Education announced Tennessee was among five states under investigation for their interference. in local decision-making on the need or not for masks.
Lee’s order expires on October 5, but he hasn’t decided whether to tacitly admit that he was wrong to issue it by refusing to renew it. He still thinks about it despite the common sense decisions of three different judges.
Waverly Crenshaw, chief justice of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Tennessee, ruled that “based on the record in court, due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Williamson County, including in the complainant’s schools, as well as a significant number of students who withdrew, the complainants were also denied access to a safe in-person education experience. Governor Lee offered no affidavits, statements, or other factual predicates to support his claim that universal mask warrants would require significant resources.
Earlier that same day, US District Judge J. Ronnie Greer also blocked enforcement of Lee’s order while legal battles over him unfold in the courts. “This is real, and probably, Knox County students are infected right now, every day, at the rate of 162 students a day … and the threat of harm is therefore (immediate),” Greer wrote in his 56 pages. decision.
In Shelby County, a federal judge banned Lee’s order indefinitely after families argued the governor’s order endangered children.
The argument used against Lee for allowing parents to bypass local mask orders is that it violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits the exclusion of students with disabilities from public educational programs and activities. Children with certain disabilities are more vulnerable to serious illness or death if they contract COVID-19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said.
Why, then, would Lee allow some children to be protected but not others? Why leave a medical decision to parents who are not qualified to make it?
Many students attended classes without masks even as pediatric hospitalizations hit record highs.
Lee said, “There are very strong opinions on both sides of this. I think that’s why the strategy we adopted, which allowed districts to provide a requirement but gave parents an opt-out option. , was a good way to go, and we still think it’s the right direction.
But allowing anyone to opt out of mask policies put in place by local districts for any reason other than a legitimate medical need is making ineffective efforts by local schools to keep children safe. If decisions about community health are to be made locally, why should the governor, or the state legislature, as he threatened, get involved?
Take a Governor Clue, and remove that order. There is no justification for pursuing it.
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