Oct 19, 2021 - News
Judge denies relief for Cobb parents suing over mask-optional policy
Parents protesting mask-optional policy of the Cobb County School District
Pro-mask demonstrators hold signs and chant during a rally over Cobb School District’s optional mask policy. Photo: Elijah Nouvelage for Bloomberg via Getty Images

A federal court judge has rejected parents’ request for a temporary injunction in their lawsuit against the Cobb County School District over its mask-optional policy.

Why it matters: Approval of the request would have required the district to follow CDC guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, including universal masking while indoors.

Flashback: Several parents of students with disabilities filed a federal lawsuit against the district, asserting that its policy violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

  • Southern Poverty Law Center attorneys representing the parents argued the students’ disabilities put them at greater risk of severe illness if they contracted COVID-19.

What they are saying: Mike Tafelski, a supervising attorney with SPLC, said the judge’s ruling does not mean that the case is over. It was just the first step in the lawsuit.

“We aren’t going anywhere,” he said. “We’re going to be defending our clients and advocating for our clients.”

The attorney added the district’s position was contradictory because it defended its mask mandate in April — when COVID-19 cases weren’t as high as they are now — in a lawsuit brought by parents seeking to remove the requirement.

The other side: The Cobb County School District said it was confident that the court would recognize “what COVID-19 data has shown for 18 months.”

  • “COVID-19 is complicated and personal health decisions, including mask wearing, are best made by people — not school districts,” Cobb schools said.

Context: Cobb County, along with Marietta City Schools, Cherokee County, Forsyth County and Henry County schools, are the only districts in the metro Atlanta area that have made masks optional for students and staff.

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