Parents Seek Immediate Relief for Immunocompromised Students Impacted by Youngkin’s Mask-Optional Mandate

File for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to Stop Youngkin’s Mask-Optional Mandate

For more information contact:

Gregg Kelley, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs Gregg_Kelley@washlaw.org, 202-319-1070

RICHMOND, VA— Today the parents of 12 children with disabilities filed for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to advance their February 1 lawsuit. They asked the court to immediately prohibit the Governor and his administration from enforcing Executive Order 2 against Virginia school districts and allow school districts the authority to keep in place the masking requirements when needed to make it safe for their children to attend school. After Executive Order 2 went into effect, many Virginia school districts dropped their existing masking requirements, creating an environment where the safety of immunocompromised children is dependent on where they live. The plaintiffs argue that, under current COVID-19 conditions, their children are facing irreparable harm if the government is allowed to enforce the Executive Order.

The suit maintains that the Governor’s Executive Order forces students with disabilities to risk their safety or give up their education in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and other federal laws that protect disabled children.

Plaintiff Tasha Nelson, mother of a 10-year-old Manassas student with cystic fibrosis, states, “For some families, choosing whether their child wears a mask and whether they are willing to be around other children not wearing masks is just that — a personal choice. But, for my child, and other high-risk children, if their peers are not wearing masks, it creates a life-threatening situation. I have to choose whether to put my child’s life at risk or harm their education and social development.”

COVID-19 cases are still high among Virginia’s children, with 7,458 cases, 34 hospitalizations, and 1 death reported in the last 2-week reporting period. All children and staff in schools are at risk, but according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “Children with underlying medical conditions are more at risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared with children without underlying medical conditions.”

Plaintiff Meghan Dufrain, whose 7-year-old has cystic fibrosis and attends Cumberland County Public Schools, explains, “The risk is too great for my son. We have had to pull him and his two siblings out of in-person school and try to cobble together an adequate education at home. I hate that they are missing educational opportunities and social engagement, but I can’t risk his life.”

“We believe an immediate temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction are needed to protect immunocompromised students in the schools that choose to make masks optional, and halt action by the Governor and his agencies to interfere with local school districts’ ability to continue their mask mandate.” says Eden Heilman, Legal Director, ACLU of Virginia.

“An immediate temporary restraining order will provide the safest pause for all concerned as the legal cases work their way through the court system” says Kaitlin Banner, Deputy Legal Director, Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights & Urban Affairs.

The parents are represented by the ACLU of Virginia, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee, Brown Goldstein & Levy, the disAbility Law Center of Virginia, and Arnold & Porter.

Read the motion here.
Read the memo in support here.

PRESS:

Augusta Free Press
DCist
Mass News
Prince William Times
WAMU
WUSA9
WTOP

###

About the ACLU of Virginia The ACLU of Virginia promotes civil liberties and civil rights for everyone in the Commonwealth through public education, litigation, and advocacy with the goal of securing freedom and equality for all. For more information on the ACLU of Virginia go to www.acluva.org.

About Washington Lawyer’s Committee Founded in 1968, The Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs works to create legal, economic, and social equity through litigation, client and public education and public policy advocacy. For more information, please visit www.washlaw.org or call 202.319.1000. Follow us on Twitter at @WashLaw4CR.

About Brown, Goldstein & Levy, LLP Brown Goldstein & Levy, LLP provides the highest quality legal services to a broad range of clients, without sacrificing our deep sense of community and social responsibility. By elevating our clients’ voices and fighting for their rights, we seek to bring about a more just world – sometimes one dispute at a time, sometimes through systemic change.

About disAbility Law Center of Virginia The disAbility Law Center of Virginia is the federally authorized protection and advocacy organization for Virginians with disabilities. Learn more at www.dlcv.org.

About Arnold & Porter Arnold & Porter is a law firm with a long history of fighting for equal access to justice through its pro bono efforts. With nearly 1,000 lawyers practicing in 13 offices around the globe, Arnold & Porter serves clients across 40 distinct practice areas. The firm offers 100 years of renowned regulatory expertise, sophisticated litigation and transactional practices, and leading multidisciplinary offerings in the life sciences and financial services industries.


Related Content