Judge: Douglas County parents can’t exempt kids from school masks

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DENVER | A federal judge has issued a restraining order against a Douglas County School District policy allowing parents to opt their children out of a mask mandate at school, finding that the rule violates the rights of students with disabilities who are vulnerable to COVID-19.

U.S. District Judge John L. Kane on Tuesday called the Douglas County Board of Health order that allowed parents to opt their children out of mask-wearing a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which guarantees equal access to education for all.

Kane’s order came in a hearing about a lawsuit filed by the Douglas County School District challenging the county Board of Health order.

The school district, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of nine children with disabilities, argued that the Board of Health’s action allowed a relaxation of universal masking that placed those students at high risk of severe disease, The Denver Post reported.

The school district also challenged the Board of Health’s relaxation of quarantine rules affecting students suspected of having the coronavirus.

Kane’s order is not the end of the legal challenge even though it sets aside the opt-out rule for now and he set a Nov. 8 hearing about the case.

Douglas County commissioners last month decided to pull the county from the Tri-County Board of Health, a three-county cooperative, in part because they disagreed with that department’s orders of mask mandates in schools.

The ruling came as states prepare for rollouts of the COVID-19 pediatric vaccines. Colorado’s health department has said it is working on an informational campaign with public health agencies, youth-focused groups and school districts for parents and guardians.

State officials are recruiting new vaccine providers and hosting seminars with health officials to provide detailed information about the pediatric vaccine and best practices for vaccinating kids.

State officials also plan to promote new and existing clinics based at schools to encourage children and their family members to get vaccinated.

That’s in addition to places already administering vaccines, including pharmacies and family doctors. Child vaccination events are being planned for after-school hours, including weekends.

The federal government has allocated an initial 171,000 doses of the pediatric vaccine to Colorado, the state health department said.

State health officials told reporters Wednesday that Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, is expected to speak about the pediatric rollout plan later this week.

The state’s hospitals are experiencing the most severe strain on bed capacity so far in the pandemic, according to state health department incident commander, Scott Bookman. As of Tuesday, 1,187 COVID-19 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Colorado.

Bookman said Colorado has the lowest number of available hospital beds in the state at any point in the pandemic.

When Colorado hit its previous peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations last December, the state had 1,800 hospital beds available. But even though the number of confirmed infections are below last year’s peak infection rate, the state’s 7-day average of acute care beds available stands at 959, Bookman said.

Colorado health officials reiterated recommendations for residents to get their annual influenza vaccinations and COVID-19 inoculations — and booster COVID-19 vaccine shots for high-risk groups to prevent added strain on hospital capacity.

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Doug King
Doug King
1 month ago

It does amaze me how parents would subject their children to an highly contagious airborne disease just because of their political leanings. Doesn’t make any sense to me. I keep coming back to: Do they tell their surgeons NOT to wear their surgical masks when they have a procedure on themselves?

vern
vern
1 month ago

Interesting that a judge would find that not wearing a mask is a violation of the students right… when in fact it should be that PARENTS AND GUARDIANS OF CHILDREN should have the rights to choose what is perhaps indicated under doctor’s guidance. Children while definitely are open to covid, they are also open for many other childhood illnesses. We don’t don’t require bubble wrap when they play on jungle jims… we can go way over board it is evident. Like colds and flew the actual number of covid deaths is very very small in children. While we want the kids to be safe- we neglect to report on the numbers that will die taking it- or have life long complications. After all the cdc says it wont know how the kids will fair taking it… until we have given lots of new untested drugs to them. I think the CDC should take every shot they prescribe… then lets see how quick they are to push a mandate.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago
Reply to  vern

When on school property, the administration, the school board and the county makes the rules. If the parents don’t like them, they have other options. But the schools have many young people to protect and that is their motivation. They cannot worry about what one or a few would like to dictate.

Jeff Ryan
Jeff Ryan
1 month ago
Reply to  vern

These vaccines are extensively tested for safety. Kind of strange you don’t know that. And why do you think kids will die from taking it? Adults don’t.

What gives anyone the right to expose others to a potentially fatal disease?

This is the ignorance and selfishness that marks a country in decline. Grow up.

Joe Felice
Joe Felice
1 month ago

These days, we’ve got too-many tails trying to wag the dogs, just to make a political point. This is a big problem which needs to be overcome.