Judge Orders Halt to Texas Mask Mandate Ban in Schools

Judge Orders Halt to Texas Mask Mandate Ban in Schools greg abbott points as he speaks during a hearing Texas GOP Gov. Greg Abbott (Stephen Spillman/AP)

Wednesday, 10 November 2021 09:49 PM

A federal judge Wednesday ordered a halt to the enforcement of Texas' ban on mask mandates in the state's schools.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel ruled in Austin the ban ordered by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott violated a federal law protecting disabled students' access to public education. The nonprofit advocacy group Disabled Rights Texas argued Abbott's ban prohibited accommodations for disabled children particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Yeakel prohibited Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton from suing school districts that require students to wear masks as a safety measure. Paxton already had sued 15 school districts to overturn those local mask mandates.

"Gov. Abbott's executive order clearly violates federal law, and Attorney General Paxton's enforcement of the order against school districts is now stopped," Kym Davis Johnson of Disability Rights Texas said in a statement. "As the court found, Texas is not above federal law, and state officials cannot prevent school districts from providing accommodations to students who are especially vulnerable to the risks of COVID-19."

Messages seeking comment from Abbott's and Paxton's offices were not immediately returned Wednesday.