After almost two years, spent navigating life during the pandemic one would assume that a better sense of handling daily events and preventing the rise in Covid-19 cases would be established. Instead, several states in America have put bans on mask mandates into practice.
Without the protective layer of masks, people are more vulnerable to contracting the Covid-19 virus. This is the same point of contention for most parents who are hesitant to send their children to school, where a mandate is not in practice to enforce that all students and faculty are wearing masks.
Parents Are Faced With A Difficult Decision As Mask Mandate Bans Still Prominent, Families Are Suing
At this point, vaccines are not available for children below the age of 12 years and the mask is the only tool capable of protecting a child from infection from the Coronavirus. The ban on mask mandate comes at a time when schools are opening up again. It prevents schools from ensuring that everyone wears a mask on campus. Only a few people wear masks on campus and since wearing masks is not a mandatory rule, there has been an upswing in the number of Covid-19 cases. Moreover, the new Delta variant of the Coronavirus has displayed particular efficacy in spreading infection.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has highlighted data showing that almost a fifth of the total Covid-19 cases is seen in children. The current scenario has placed parents in a difficult position, whether to risk their child’s life by sending them to school where wearing masks is not compulsory or keep them at home for the school year. Samantha Boevers, mother to a 4-year-old boy diagnosed with autism is one of many faced with this difficult decision. Boevers’ son, Porter is at a higher risk of contracting the virus due to his disability.
The ban on the mask mandate leaves Porter vulnerable to getting infected. The only way to prevent infection for a child Porter’s age is by wearing a mask, says his mother. South Carolina, the Boevers’ state of residence is considered to be the third-highest trend of Covid-19 cases in children. Appealing to the American Civil Liberties Union, Boevers along with other parents as well as advocates have filed a suit with the federal court to fight against the ban on mask mandates in schools. The suite includes a
number of local school board members and state officials as defendants. It claims that the ban on mask mandates violates federal law as it excludes students with disabilities from actively participating in school.
This lawsuit is another of seven lawsuits filed to contest the ban on mask mandates. Recently several other lawsuits have been filed in other states such as Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Many of these lawsuits are based on the same grounds that the ban on mask mandates interferes with the education of children with disabilities and is in violation of these students’ rights. So far, one of the suits that were filed in the state of Florida has made some headway. A judge has ruled that the statewide ban on school mask mandates is not in keeping with the law. The judge ruled that districts should be allowed to set their own policies.
The lawsuits are of the utmost importance as with the reopening of schools at a time when Covid-19 cases are surging due to the Delta variant, action must be taken swiftly. While the ban on asking all students to compulsorily wear a mask is dangerous to all children, it is particularly lethal to those children who are affected by disabilities. The lawsuit filed in coordination with the American Civil Liberties Union states that children with disabilities possess a right to learn and interact with other students their age. The lawsuit declares that children burdened with disabilities should be allowed to have the same kind of education as other students.
It also further declares that children with disabilities must be able to come home in good health without having to jeopardize their safety to receive their education. Samantha Boevers explains that the current state policy has left parents to make an extremely difficult decision. It forces parents to choose between their children’s education and their health which is a decision that no parent should have to make says Boevers.